Everton defender Callum Connolly may have found his perfect fit for 2021 already as he has sung the praises of Fleetwood Town after securing a second loan spell with the League One side.
Connolly completed his temporary return to Fleetwood for the 2020/21 season during the final week of the domestic transfer window, after spending the second half of last term with Joey Barton’s outfit.
The 23-year-old was a regular for the third-tier side, making 13 straight outings in the starting line-up before the season was cut short due to the pandemic, while featuring in each of their Play-Off Semi-Final ties with eventual winners Wycombe Wanderers.
Barton awarded the defender his second debut against Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium on Tuesday evening, after which Connolly spoke of his joy at returning to Highbury and playing for the Cod Army.
“It’s great to be back,” he said, to Fleetwood’s official website. “I was here last year and it’s great to be back in a Fleetwood Town kit, it was a tough one to take tonight and hopefully it’s going to be a better season than last year and hopefully we can learn our lesson tonight where we can get going on push on.
“It’s a friendly squad, there’s a lot of scousers, it’s a great team where everyone is dead down to earth. The new lads that have come in are great and you can get along with everyone, you can see it on the pitch, and hopefully, when we keep on playing and training together it will one day click, and we can be a force.”
Connolly has just eight months remaining on his current Everton contract and he is expected to leave the Toffees once his Fleetwood loan expires.
While Connolly is not thought to have a future at Goodison Park, the 23-year-old may have found his new home already in Fleetwood, given how much pride he takes from playing for the League One side and the admiration that he receives from those connected with the Highbury club.
Barton lauded Connolly last winter for being able to play not only in defence but also in midfield, with the Cod Army boss stating to the Blackpool Gazette: “We thought he would give us versatility but every position he’s gone into, he’s just played better.
“He’s played left centre-half and was superb, then he flipped over to right centre-half and he was superb. He went into centre-midfield and scored a goal against Peterborough last week. Then we pushed him into the number 10 role against Portsmouth to put pressure on Tom Naylor and give us a pressing platform, and he pops up with another.”
It can only be presumed that Barton and Connolly will look to sound out the potential of a deal to keep the £1.44m-rated man at Highbury beyond his full season on loan, given that Everton will not be due a transfer fee for the player who first joined the Toffees’ academy in 2006.