Returning no-nonsense defender Mark Connolly is well aware overnight success is unlikely at Crawley Town, instead saying ‘it’s one step at a time’.
The Irish centre-back has revealed it feels like he has rejoined a club which has the real potential to go places again.
Having joined Reds in 2012, the 24-year-old made 80 appearances in League One in two seasons before heading north of the boarder for an injury-effect two years at Kilmarnock.
Connolly, who turned down a number of other offers before signing a two-year deal at the Checkatrade Stadium at the start of July, revealed he never really wanted to leave the club in the first place.
But despite his positive vibes about the new era at a club he adores, he has stopped short of predicting huge things in Dermot Drummy’s first full season, insisting it will take time to push up the leagues.
Connolly said: “I have said it before and I think it’s one step at a time. We have made some very good signings and we are playing good football at the moment, but it’s still early days.
“Once you get a few months into the season you can sort of see where you are going to be.
“Aspirations for the season are I want to play as many games as I can, help the team out as much as I can and push the team up the league.
“I am not going to stand here and say we are going to win the league. It’s one step at a time and hopefully we can do well and hopefully we can push up into the top half of the table, finish off better than the lads did last year and push on.
“We have spoken about it and the manager has the right idea. He is trying to bring a philosophy to the club where we play good football and we work hard on and off the field.
“Getting the togetherness of the team at the club with the new owners and getting a real togetherness with the fans (is important) as I said, it’s not going to happen overnight, but hopefully in the near future we are pushing back up the leagues.
“We want to get back to playing the big teams like we did when I was here last time, that would be my aim.”
After four weeks in a hotel, Connolly has settled off-the-pitch this week, moving into his new house with his fiancé and child.
He is pleased to see everyone at the club pulling in the same direction. Despite his own tender age, the former Bolton player, who was captain at Wolves and Kilmarnock, will try and use his experience to help to the new recruits.
He said: “The welcome has been brilliant and I am just delighted to be back.
“I really enjoyed my time here last time and to be honest, I didn’t really want to leave, but I think the whole team did bar a few.
“I feel like I have come back at a good time and the club is trying to push up the way.
“I think everyone from the owners, the people that work behind the scenes, the manager, the players, the media, everyone is on the same wavelength.
“That’s a massive thing for a football club, we are all trying to do well for the town and hopefully we can push the club back up the leagues.
“All the experience has helped me and we do have a young squad, I am not too old myself, but I feel old now.
“It’s going to be a great experience. For me, Jimmy Smith, Joe McNerney, all those boys understand we are in it together.
“If we can put an arm around one of the young boys’ shoulders, that’s the main thing as we are all in this together. We all make mistakes, even the older boys, so it’s sticking together and being as a team and helping each other out.”
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