Brighton fans are right to get excited about the emergence of Steven Alzate and Aaron Connolly.
Alzate hardly placed a foot wrong as he made an impressive Premier League debut at St James’ Park last Saturday.
The 21-year-old was handed his first start as Solly March picked up a minor injury and Alzate made the most of his opportunity at left wing back.
The former Leyton Orient player – who Dale Stephens described as a natural footballer – has delivered fine displays for the under-23s and made the step-up into the PL with minimal fuss.
He was confident on the ball, picked the right passes and was so close to capping his debut with goal – his first half header from Pascal Gross’ cross was ruled-out for offside.
In the second half he showed his versatility as he moved to a more central position and as the game became stretched, he was Albion’s most creative player.
Graham Potter has spoken highly of Alzate since his arrival as manager in May. Connolly was always the high-profile figure from the under-23s but each time Aaron’s name was raised in press conferences, Potter was always quick to include Alzate into the equation. And on Saturday evening the youngster, born in London to Colombian parents, showed exactly why.
Whether he gets an extended run in the team will depend on injuries and tactics to suit each upcoming opponent.
Alzate will no doubt be eager to continue in the first team and many fans would love to see him on the pitch once again this Saturday in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
Blues manager Frank Lampard has also promoted youth this season and if Alzate performs at his best, he would not look out of place against the country’s brightest young talents of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.
Alzate did more than enough to keep the shirt, but it’s also a question of how Potter feels is the best way to manage his development.
His under-23 teammate, Connolly, also made an impact from the bench at St James’ Park. The young Irishman was agonisingly close to his first PL goal when his lobbed finish was acrobatically cleared off the line by Newcastle defender Fabian Schar.
It would have been a classy finish and it showed what excellent attacking instinct Connolly has. His first PL strike will no doubt arrive very soon. Connolly’s work rate and desire to pitch in for the team also impressed.
A few eye brows were raised when Brighton allowed both Jurgen Locadia and Florin Andone to depart on loan and at the time Potter insisted it was a chance for youth.
It appeared then that the manager was placing a positive spin on a situation that left them light at the top end of the pitch, but based on Saturday’s evidence – it looks like this talented duo are indeed ready.