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First team

Fast learner Simmo has great self-belief

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Jack Simpson’s fledging career with AFC Bournemouth has certainly been a case of quality rather than quantity.

Two of his seven Premier League appearances have come against eventual champions Manchester City, while another saw him help the Cherries to an historic first top-flight win over Champions’ League finalists Tottenham.

Just for good measure, the young defender has also featured in two League Cup quarter-finals against five-time winners Chelsea, his exploits at Stamford Bridge sandwiching a first cap for England under-21s.

Born in Tooting, South London and raised in Weymouth, the 22-year-old joined the Cherries when he was 12, conscientiously working his way through the academy ranks before being fast-tracked into Eddie Howe’s first-team squad at 18.  

He shot to prominence when he capped a dream debut by bagging the Cherries’ opener in a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough in the League Cup in October 2017 and was involved in the final five Premier League games this season, starting the last three against Southampton, Tottenham and Crystal Palace. 

Reviewing 2018/19, Simpson told afcb.co.uk: “It was a good end to the season for me and great to get some regular game time. I’d like to try to build on that next season.

“I know we didn’t get anything from the Manchester City game, but we really fought and put ourselves in a good light. It was a great experience for me. If you’re going to play, you want to play against the best and they are the best.

“Tottenham was very different to any game I’d played before. We went from thinking we were the underdogs to thinking we had to win against a very good side after they had gone down to nine men. It was a weird game but definitely a very positive one.

“Reaching the League Cup quarter-finals for a second season in succession was a great achievement and we were unlucky to lose against Chelsea again.

“We played well in both games against them. This season, it was more of a defensive performance and we knew if we could hold on, we would go to penalties and we felt confident.” 

Simpson has learned quickly about the unforgiving nature of the Premier League, experiencing his fair share of ups and downs in a short period of time.

He came off the bench in the 5-0 win at Brighton, the Cherries’ biggest away victory in the top flight, before conceding the decisive penalty in the 1-0 defeat by Fulham.

And after starting back-to-back Premier League games for the first time in his career and helping the team pick up four points against Southampton and Tottenham, Simpson was credited with an unfortunate own goal in the 5-3 reverse at Crystal Palace.

“I’ve still got a long way to go,” said Simpson. “I haven’t played many games in professional football so they are all learning experiences. 

“The penalty against Fulham was definitely one I will learn from, playing against someone who was a bit more savvy than I’m used to (Aleksandar Mitrovic).

“I won’t be dwelling too much on the Palace own goal because there wasn’t too much I could have done, maybe just learn from how we got into that position in the first place.

“It’s a massive step up from the under-21s but I definitely feel I’ve made big strides, especially this season, to bridge the gap. I hope I’m not too far away from making the final step.

“I need to work hard over the summer, make sure I come back in the best shape possible and then try to force my way into the team.

"That’s my mindset at the moment and I’m not really thinking about anything else other than trying to become a regular starter here.

“I know it’s going to be massively difficult, there’s no denying that. But I believe in myself and believe I’m capable of doing that.

“It’s going to be a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where I am and know I’m going to have to go again. But I’m willing to do it to try to get in the team which is the end goal.”

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