David Lee was a terrace favourite during his playing days for Wanderers. And, now he is coaching the club’s future prospects in the under-23s squad, the ex-winger says Connell’s withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland squad will not have an adverse effect on the rising star.
Connell was something of a surprise inclusion in Mick McCarthy’s squad to train in Portugal ahead of games against Denmark and Gibraltar.
But though he will play no part in either match, because of a thigh strain, Lee is convinced it is only a matter of time before he earns a full international cap.
“Of course, it will have been a great experience for him,” Lee told The Bolton News. “I presume he’d had a couple of weeks off and then gone straight back into it, trainig hard, and that’s what can happen with younger lads.
“But it was great for him to get called into the squad, I’m not surprised Mick McCarthy said how well he conducted himself, he’s a chirpy Scouser and a streetwise kid, and has that little bit of arrogance which I think you need. Luca has got a great future ahead of him if he can do it on a regular basis. This season he’ll need to knuckle down, stay within his zone and not get ahead of his station.
“I’m sure, with the right people around him, he’ll keep on the level and develop into a very good player.”
McCarthy was full of praise for the young midfielder, calling him ‘a breath of fresh air’ after his spell with the senior squad.
And Lee hopes the academy production will continue to feed talented youngsters into the first-team set-up in the years to come.
His role, and that of Jimmy Phillips, Nicky Spooner and their academy colleagues, is sure to become ever-more vital, given the club’s uncertain and precarious future.
“Luca’s call-up was great from the perspective of our academy, it’s always important to have new players coming through from within,” he added.
“Hopefully we’ll continue to do that and more players will come through.”