Having joined the Cherries back in 2007, Brennan Camp has progressed from a seven year-old in the academy to captain of the development squad.
During his 14 years at AFC Bournemouth, the Dorchester-born defender has helped guide the under-18s to the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup in what was the club’s best run in the competition for 50 years, earn a maiden international cap for Scotland under-19s and make his first-team debut in this season’s Carabao Cup against Norwich.
Wednesday’s Premier League Cup game is another big one for Camp, with the team aiming to climb the Group A table with three points at AFC Totton.
Shaun Cooper’s side currently sit third in the standings, a place above opponents Southampton, with one draw and one defeat from their opening two matches against Arsenal and West Brom.
A place in Group A’s top two would see the Cherries progress to the knockout rounds come the end of February and Camp is relishing the third of six fixtures in this year’s group stage in a bid to get there.
“Yeah, we’re all looking forward to the game with Southampton,” he began.
“We don’t have many competitive games in a season, so when one comes around it’s a big occasion.
“We’ve been lucky in the last few weeks to have had quite a lot of matches against different types of opposition, so we’re looking forward to it.
“Last year, we didn’t have too many. Recently, we’ve had one every week, some against men’s teams and others against younger teams like Leicester and Cardiff who have both been strong.
“The prep has been good and we’re all looking forward to it.”
While the Premier League Cup presents an opportunity for the development squad to face teams that they might not otherwise cross paths with, it can also provide a chance for players to catch the eye.
With the likes of Mark Travers, Jordan Zemura, Jaidon Anthony and Gavin Kilkenny all featuring the last time Cooper’s side played Southampton in the Premier League Cup, a 3-2 win back in February last year, Camp knows all too well the importance of a strong performance.
“The good thing with this competition is that you get a lot of senior players that want to play in it as well, perhaps if they need some minutes.
“It’s a big competition and there’s always a lot of eyes watching so if you do well then there’s a chance you could then be with the first team at some point.
“The Premier League Cup is also great for just improving your general game going forward.
“Even though we only got a point against Arsenal and we deserved to get more, the whole occasion with the fans in the stadium was great.
“Getting the point against a team like Arsenal was good, but Wednesday night is a big match in terms of the league table, so we’ll be looking to get the three points in that one.”
Camp continued to explain his role in the side, having been appointed as the development squad’s captain at the start of the season.
As a result, he’s already led the team out against West Brom and Arsenal in the competition so far, despite a handful of senior players in the starting line up against the latter.
“In the last game against Arsenal, I didn’t expect to be captain with the likes of Steve Cook and Lewis Cook playing,” Camp explained.
“It was nice leading those boys out and they also helped me out on the pitch as they’ve been there and done it before.
“I do really enjoy being captain and having that responsibility on and off the pitch. I like helping some of the younger lads as I’ve been quite lucky with my experiences over the last few years.
“Hopefully I can carry on doing a good job and help this team win games.”
The central defender, who has barely missed a minute for Cooper’s side this season, is raring to go ahead of tonight’s game with Southampton and believes that the experience gained in recent seasons stand him in good stead for such crucial fixtures.
Camp played a pivotal role in back-to-back promotions for fellow Dorset outfit, Weymouth, as they reached the National League under the guidance of former player Mark Molesley.
“The past two or three years, I’ve literally just been playing men’s football with Weymouth.
“Coming back and playing with lads my age here or playing against academy teams has been quite different.
“I wouldn’t say I feel comfortable, but I do feel confident playing against academy teams both physically and mentally.
“Both the experience and toughness of playing with men helps me in these games, especially as I feel more like a leader now.
“The past few years have been really good for me.”
The under-21s take on Southampton at AFC Totton on Wednesday evening, with kick-off at 7pm. You can buy tickets here for just £3.