Brooklyn's big night was deserved reward
Coach Alan Connell believes Brooklyn Genesini’s inclusion in the first team was a “deserved reward” for his efforts with AFC Bournemouth under-18s this season.
Teenage defender Genesini was named on the bench by boss Eddie Howe for last night’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with Arsenal at Vitality Stadium.
The 18-year-old was invited to train with the first-team squad after impressing Howe and his staff during the Cherries’ recent FA Youth Cup wins over Barnet and Cardiff.
Second-year scholar Genesini, who hails from Yeovil, earned a place in the academy ranks after initially catching the eye in one of the club’s ID centres as a 13-year-old.
Although he did not come on against the Gunners, Genesini has been one of the leading lights as the under-18s claimed the EFL Youth Alliance South West title and booked a place in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.
Connell told afcb.co.uk: “He did quite well in the FA Youth Cup games and the first-team staff watched them both. On the back of that, he trained with them a few times and they also liked things he did when he went with them.
“It was pleasing because as a young player it is not just a case of joining a first-team training session, you are going in with established Premier League footballers and that is a huge step up.
“But two of his biggest strengths are his composure and his mentality and they helped him deal with the pressure.
“They liked what they saw and we had a call yesterday morning to say he was required for training. He phoned me later to say the gaffer had told him he would be on the bench and to make sure he let his family know. Brook was almost speechless.
“It gives the rest of our players something to relate to and something to aspire to, especially with Christian Saydee having trained with the first team and been on the bench at Tottenham earlier this season.
“There are opportunities for boys at this club and there were six academy graduates in the first-team squad against Arsenal.
“It was a deserved reward for Brook because he has worked hard at his game and very rewarding for everyone in the academy to see him involved.
“He was brought in by Carl Robson, our head of recruitment, and he came through the ID centre.
"Although he was originally a winger, we saw more potential in him as a right-back and he signed for the academy at the start of his under-16 year.
“Brook has done well enough to be where he is but knows he has lots he needs to work on and is aware of that. We will make sure he continues to improve his game further.”
Following his exploits with the first team, Genesini had an early start today as Connell’s team concluded their EFL Youth Alliance campaign with a 1-1 draw against Forest Green Rovers at Cirencester Agricultural College.
Khavarn Williams bagged his 11th goal of the season and had a great chance to win it for the visitors after the hosts had levelled before half-time.
Connell added: “It was a difficult game and they put us under a lot of pressure. The conditions were awful and it wasn’t a particularly good pitch.
“In some aspects, I was pleased to see the boys put under pressure and have to deal with the situation as things didn’t go their own way.
“They need to be tested and taken out of their comfort zone. We did okay but weren’t anywhere near our best. We competed and defended well but lacked quality on the ball. We are going to need to be better in our next game.”
The Cherries host Millwall in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup at Vitality Stadium a week today (7pm) with the winners visiting either Chelsea or Wolves in the quarter-finals.
Cherries: Besant, Genesini, Bertrand (Roberts, 60), Channell (Burgess, 70), Greenwood, Gidaree (Pollock, 60), Moriah-Welsh, Gray, Oliver, Williams (Adams, 75), Pardoe.