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Development Squad

Strong bond is key to success says Finn

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Finn Tonks believes a strong bond between teammates was a key factor to the success of the AFC Bournemouth development squad during their maiden season with category two academy status.

Tonks was the leading appearance-maker as the Cherries challenged for honours in the Professional Development League, the Premier League Cup and the Hampshire Senior Cup.

The 19-year-old defender featured 37 times, scoring twice, supplying ten assists and racking up no fewer than 14 clean sheets for Alan Connell’s team.

Tonks joined the club as an under-13 and has progressed through the ranks alongside several players who graduated to the development squad 12 months ago.

And like a number of his teammates, Tonks has been rewarded for his progress with a new contract which will see him extend his stay at Vitality Stadium.

A two-time EFL Youth Alliance winner, Tonks served his scholarship with fellow development squad teammates Daniel Adu-Adjei, Lewis Brown, Michael Dacosta Gonzalez, Archie Harris, Max Kinsey, Kian Tydeman, Toure Williams and Ben Winterburn.

Tonks, who was born in Winchester and raised in Andover, told afcb.co.uk: “A lot of us who have just had our first season with the development squad have been teammates for a few years.

“It’s great because we know each other really well, both on and off the pitch. We’re all really close and it gives the group a nice feel. It definitely shows on the pitch as well.

“We won the league twice as under-18s and have had a great season in our first year at this level.

“Personally, I felt I had a really good season. I played a lot of games and really enjoyed it, especially testing myself at category two.

“It’s a good level and really competitive. It gives you good experience playing against higher opposition.

“I’m already looking forward to next season. I will work hard over the summer, follow my off-season programme and make sure I come back flying.”

A productive campaign for Connell’s team saw them take their league challenge to the final day and into the last 16 of the Premier League Cup and the semi-final of the Hampshire Senior Cup.

Dominic Sadi and Adu-Adjei both made appearances for the first team, while Kinsey, Dacosta Gonzalez, Ben Greenwood and Cal McKenna were all named in Premier League matchday squads.

Tonks added: “Some of the boys have done really well and impressed the first-team head coach.

“They have been in and around the first team quite a lot and it was great to see Dom and Dan both come off the bench.

“For every player in the development squad, it’s really nice to know the first-team head coach is looking at the academy and giving players a chance.”

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