WHEN Mark Connolly put pen-to-paper on a sensational return to Rhyl, it significantly improved their chances of making an instant return to the Welsh Premier League.

No sooner had the former Bala Town talisman been released by Lakesiders’ manager Colin Caton, he returned to the Lilywhites and has already showed in a number of pre-season friendlies just how big of a role he is going to have to play this term.

The striker has hit the ground running with a series of stylish performances, and his experience will be a huge asset to Niall McGuinness’ young squad in what is expected to be a hugely competitive Huws Gray Alliance.

With so much at stake in terms of promotion and what it would mean to a club like Rhyl, Connolly will be relied on heavily to come up with goals to spearhead their expected title charge, and provided he has overcome his niggling injury troubles then he is sure to be among the standout performers operating in the second tier.

After initially joining the club in 2005, Connolly will be looking for a repeat of the immense success he enjoyed during his first spell at the Corbett Sports Stadium, which saw him lift the Welsh Cup and score 31 goals before moving to Chester City following their relegation due to licensing issues.

McGuinness will also be looking for Connolly to be a huge presence off-the-field in their quest for promotion, with the new arrival boasting a wealth of knowledge that will be extremely beneficial behind the scenes as he lends both advice and guidance to younger members of the Lilies’ line-up.

The HGA is a notoriously difficult league to get out of, and with the likes of Airbus Broughton, Caernarfon Town and Flint Town United investing heavily in their respective squads, and teams such as Holywell Town, Holyhead Hotspur, Caersws and Denbigh Town also harbouring ambitions of WPL football next season, it is going to take a monumental effort from any Cymru Alliance side to get their hands on the coveted title.

Having Connolly on board will aid Rhyl’s cause considerably, but it remains to be seen whether his presence is enough to get the Lilywhites back to the promised land.