AFC Bournemouth development squad boss Alan Connell is relishing locking horns with former club Ipswich Town for the first time in his career, both as a player and a coach.
Connell, who did his apprenticeship at Portman Road, will be in the technical area when the Cherries host the Suffolk club in the Professional Development League at Vitality Stadium on Tuesday (7pm kick-off).
Striker Connell won two promotions and also featured in the club’s Greatest Escape in 2008/09 during two successful spells with the Cherries having signed initially from Ipswich as a 19-year-old in July 2002.
Despite also playing for Torquay, Hereford, Brentford, Swindon and Bradford – as well as being on the academy coaching staff at Vitality Stadium since 2015 – Connell has never crossed paths with the club which are currently flying high in the Championship.
He told afcb.co.uk: “I had two great years there and feel very fortunate to have learned my trade as a young player at that club and at that time.
“My apprenticeship, as it was then, was between 2000 and 2002 which coincided with the last two years Ipswich were in the Premier League.
“I was fortunate to watch some great games and to get to train with the first team which was something I did quite a lot during my time there. That was a really valuable learning experience for someone who was as young and keen as I was.
“As a club, it was all about developing, improving and learning. I learned so much from great people like Bryan Klug, Paul Goddard, Ken Goody and Simon Milton, people who have been synonymous with Ipswich over the years.
“I did everything I could to have a career as a professional footballer and will always be extremely grateful for the environment, platform and opportunity that Ipswich provided for me.
“Although I never broke into the first team, it set me up well for my next step which was joining AFC Bournemouth in 2002.
“It’s remarkable to think this is the first time I will have crossed paths with them since then.
“As a player, they were always in a higher division and, in nine years coaching here, I have never come across them, not even in a friendly.
“Now we have been elevated to category two, this is the first opportunity for me to go against a club I learned so much at some 20-odd years ago.”
Connell’s team, currently second in Group South of the PDL, will put their 12-game unbeaten run on the line against fifth-placed Ipswich in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 at Vitality Stadium.
Victory for the Cherries would see them go top of the table after leaders QPR had their match with Charlton Athletic postponed due to a waterlogged pitch on Monday.
“I’m excited for my players to have the opportunity to perform at our stadium and in front of a big crowd,” added Connell.
“We know it will be another tough challenge for us and all I want to see is a continuation of all the hard work the players have put in over the past few months.”
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