DUNDEE UNITED defender Mark Connolly has joined Dunfermline on loan, it has been announced.

The 29-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal until January, and could make his debut in tonight's Fife derby at Raith Rovers.

The Irish centre back, who was a team-mate of Paul Watson's at Tannadice, as well as fellow United loanee, Ross Graham, is working his way back to fitness after his cruciate ligament in a Premiership match against Motherwell in May.

Connolly, who made 29 appearances for the Arabs last season, began his career with hometown club, Monaghan United, before playing at youth level in England with both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers.

Following loan spells with both St Johnstone and Macclesfield Town, he joined Crawley Town in the summer of 2012, for whom he made 80 appearances - according to data on the Soccerbase website - over a two-year spell.

Connolly, who has made 17 appearances for the Republic of Ireland's under-17 and under-19s as well as making seven starts at under-21 level, then moved on to Kilmarnock, signing a three-year deal, and was named as the Rugby Park club's captain a year later following the departure of Manuel Pascali.

However, after suffering an injury in the early part of 2016, he was one of eight players that were allowed to leave the Ayrshire by then manager, Lee Clark, and returned to Crawley.

He made more than 100 further appearances for the English League Two side before moving back to Scotland in January 2019 when Robbie Neilson swooped to take him to Tayside.

Connolly was part of the United side beaten by St Mirren, on penalties, in the Premiership play-off final in his first season, before playing 17 times - including in a 2-0 defeat to the Pars at East End in February last year - in the shortened 2019/20 campaign, in which United were declared as Championship title winners.

He made 29 of his 67 appearances to date for United on their return to the top flight last term, where they finished ninth, but has only featured once this season, as a substitute in a scoreless draw at St Mirren earlier this month.

United stated: "The Club can confirm that defender Mark Connolly has joined Dunfermline Athletic on loan until January 2022.   "The 29-year-old Irishman, who signed for United in 2019 from Crawley Town playing 67 times for the Club to-date, snapped his cruciate ligament in a Premiership match against Motherwell in May.

"Working with Dundee United Head of Medicine and Sports Science Marcin Szostak and fitness coach Kyler Burns, he has gone through months of exacting rehab since.  "The move to Dunfermline will allow him to fully rebuild his fitness.   "Everybody associated United wishes him all the best in his recovery and looks forward to his return to Tannadice in 2022."