Paul Connolly hopes to seize chance to earn long-term Reds stay

Paul Connolly during a brief loan spell at Portsmouth in 2012
Paul Connolly during a brief loan spell at Portsmouth in 2012

Paul Connolly is desperate for a run in the side to prove he’s worthy of a long-term deal at Crawley Town.

With Joe Walsh away on international duty with the Wales Under-21 side, the right-back is likely to get his chance against Stevenage on Tuesday night, with Mark Connolly expected to move inside to centre-back.

The 30-year-old was without a club for two weeks when his contract with Millwall came to an end before Reds boss John Gregory snapped him up in January on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

And with the prospect of his first Crawley start tomorrow night the defender is keen to impress.

Connolly said: “I want to play, that’s what I’m here for and the gaffer knows I’m ready, I’ve been training well so I’m ready. Joe goes away to play for his country so it’ll more than likely be me stepping in so I’ve got to try and perform.”

The experienced former Plymouth Argyle and Leeds United man had offers from two fellow League One clubs nearer to his young family in Leeds, but plumped for Crawley after buying into the ambitions of manager Gregory.

“It was depressing at times (being out of contract) but there’s more important things going on in life,” Connolly said. “I was two weeks without a club so it wasn’t too bad but it is hard because you don’t know when the door is going to open, but it opened here and I’ll be forever grateful to Crawley and whatever happens now is a bonus.

“I’d like to do well enough to be offered a deal or a deal with another club and the gaffer knows where I stand and what he’ll get from me so it just depends now if he wants to pick me.”

And on joining Reds he added: “I like the way everyone’s mucked in at the club, it reminded me of me old Plymouth days when I was there.

“Without being derogatory it’s an old fashioned club where everybody from the top to bottom mucks in and we’re all trying to go in the right direction and help each other.”

The versatile player can also operate at centre-back or as a holding midfielder but he says his best position is at right back.

The game against a physical Stevenage side desperately battling for their survival is likely to be another scrappy affair similar to Saturday’s late win over Peterborough.

That was Reds’ first game on their troubled Broadfield pitch since January 8, and Connolly isn’t anticipating a classic against Graham Westley’s side.

He said: “It probably won’t be pretty but it wasn’t today and we’ve won so we’re happy. They’ll enjoy it but it’s so hard to pass it, it really is, you can’t take chances ‘cos you’ll give mistakes so we’re both going to have play a bit more direct then we do because in training we pass the ball to death.

“But you can’t do that here at the minute. It’s a tough game, they’re fighting for their lives but I think we should have enough to beat them and keep our eyes looking up the table.”