Brighton manager Graham Potter has conceded that Aaron Connolly has endured a "frustrating" season at the Premier League club.
Having burst onto the scene with a brace on his first start for the club in 2019, his influence has waned since.
A mix of injuries and form have seen Connolly limited to just 15 appearances for the Seagulls this season, finding the net twice.
An alleged breach of COVID-19 regulations in March saw the Galwegian's name splashed across tabloid newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
Speaking to OTB Sports ahead of Saturday's crucial trip to Sheffield United, Potter insisted the 21-year old's growing pains were only natural.
"He’s only a young man. He’s learning – I look back at myself when I was that age and I didn’t know a lot of things and maybe thought I did," said the Brighton boss.
"But he’s taking responsibility, he’s learning about himself more and more, learning about what it takes to be a Premier League footballer, how to deal with setbacks and disappointment and all those things – criticism that comes your way.
"At times those are the most important times of your career and your life and how you manage those situations.
"At the same time he does a lot of stuff really well, he has got some attributes that are really exciting for him and for us and just like any young person or player, it’s about balancing the needs of the team and him and his development as a human being and to help him have a really good career."
Despite the turbulent nature of his season, including a brush with coronavirus early in the campaign, Potter maintains the utmost faith in Connolly's abilities.
"He’s progressing well, when you talk about how people progress, we automatically link it to positive performances, how he’s dealing with the Premier League and he’s doing that well," said the Seagulls' manager.
"He’s taking responsibility, he’s got somethings that he needs to improve, but he also knows the things that he does well. It’s about helping him with both, he’s trying his best, he’s had a frustrating season for a few reasons but he’s always fighting for the team.
"While it’s like that we want to try and help him."