AIDAN Connolly is desperate to establish himself as a York City regular again, having insisted he never wanted to leave the club.

The former Dundee United winger was placed on the transfer list – at his own request according to former manager Gary Mills – but was recalled for his first game since the end of August as new boss Martin Gray took charge during Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Brackley.

Connolly lasted just over an hour having been training with the youth team during the final month of Mills’ reign and, ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leamington, is hoping to start two consecutive league games – something he never achieved under Gray’s successor.

On his return to action, Connolly said: “It was my first game back for a while and it felt nice to get out there again. Hopefully, I can get a few more games now and work hard to keep my place, because I just want to be playing and I’m looking forward to Saturday now.

“I wasn’t ever going to leave. I wanted to play and was always committed to the club.

“I never heard of any interest from other clubs and I just kept working hard behind the scenes, while staying positive and mentally strong. I want to play as high as I can during my career and, when you’re not playing, it’s sometimes hard to stay happy.

“You’re always looking at the future and where you want to be and, hopefully, I can go up the leagues with York. I’m still young and I’m learning every day by gaining more experience about everything in football, including that need to be mentally strong.”

Following his arrival in the summer of 2016, Connolly forged a strong understanding with former striker Richard Brodie, as the latter netted in five consecutive fixtures.

The 22-year-old Scotsman now feels he could establish a similar partnership with veteran targetman Jon Parkin, if given the opportunity.

“I did well with Brodie in the National League and I think big Parky is priceless for the team, including in the changing room,” Connolly pointed out. “He’s just so relaxed to get on with and has plenty of knowledge.

“Hopefully, I can start setting him up, because I just want to get back to scoring and creating goals again.”

Connolly went on to declare that the new management team of Gray and sporting director Dave Penney had raised morale at Bootham Crescent with the Brackley triumph following back-to-back defeats against Harrogate and South Shields.

“Since coming in, the new manager has been really good,” the former Scotland under-19 international added. “He’s put confidence in me and helped spread it around the club, which could be seen in the performance on Saturday.

“Dave Penney has also been really helpful and I think we can now go on a winning run and make some progress. Spirits are high after the win and, hopefully, we can keep that going.

On the preparation ahead of a first-ever trip for club and player to Leamington’s New Windmill Ground, meanwhile, Connolly explained: “I’ve never played against them, but we’ll be looking at the opposition later in the week and working out their strengths and weaknesses.”