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First Team

Feature: Greenwood at the ready if called upon


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Patience has been a virtue for Ben Greenwood.

The cultured defender has been one of the major success stories of the AFC Bournemouth academy, rising through the ranks since joining the club in 2019.

He was initially spotted by Carl Robson, then head of academy recruitment, turning out for Fleet Spurs in the Combined Counties League, step six of the non-league pyramid.

Born in Frimley, Greenwood won a scholarship after impressing during a trial, his exploits with the Cherries earning him international recognition with Republic of Ireland under-19s.

Raised in Aldershot, the club he supported as a boy, Greenwood, who has also been capped by England schoolboys, turned professional at Vitality Stadium in July 2021.

Just days later, he lined up against Champions League winners Chelsea in a pre-season friendly, much to the delight of Blues-following family members, dad Phil, mum Ruth and brother Harry.

He had a productive loan spell with Weymouth in the National League in 2021/22 before being handed his full Cherries debut against Norwich in the second round of the Carabao Cup in August 2022.

Greenwood was forced to bide his time as he waited for another first-team call-up after being named in the matchday squad for this season’s Premier League curtain-raiser against West Ham in August.

With a left-sided reinforcement signed in the shape of Hungary international Milos Kerkez, Greenwood returned to duty with the development squad, captaining them in the absence of Max Kinsey over the festive period.

But with Kerkez sustaining an injury just before Christmas, Greenwood was recalled to Andoni Iraola’s group and was an unused substitute for the FA Cup third-round win at QPR and for the Premier League meeting with Liverpool on Sunday.  

Dividing his time between both squads, Greenwood starred as Alan Connell’s team recorded back-to-back wins against Bristol City and Cardiff City in the Professional Development League at the start of this month.

But in readiness for the visit of Swansea City in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Thursday, Greenwood sat out the development squad’s emphatic 5-1 win against Wolves on Monday which clinched them a place in the last 16 of the Premier League Cup.

Should Greenwood get some minutes against the Swans, it will have been 520 days since his memorable debut at Carrow Road, a dramatic penalty shootout victory booking the Cherries a place in the third round of the Carabao Cup.   

Discussing a hectic few weeks, Greenwood told afcb.co.uk: “Moving up and down between playing for the development squad and being involved with the first team has been really enjoyable.

“You can’t fail to learn when you are training with top-quality internationals. I’ve been fortunate to go up with the first team before and it has been a fantastic experience.

“I’m just desperate to get on the pitch and know my time will come, providing I keep working hard in training and in games, which I will.

“I’ve been in and around it in the past and I really enjoy the step up. We’ve got a really exciting group of players in the development squad and, when called upon, we’ll be ready so, hopefully, our time will come.

“It was gutting to miss such a great night on Monday but it was great to be able to cheer the lads on from the sidelines.

“We’ve come so close to getting through in the Premier League Cup in the past few years and started so well this season with seven points from three away games.

“There’s a bit of relief and a weight off our shoulders at getting through but we have deserved it. Now, we want to top the group and that’s what we’re working towards in the final two games.”

Asked about the prospect of following in teammate Dan Adu-Adjei’s footsteps and winning his spurs in the FA Cup against Swansea, Greenwood said: “It’s such a special competition.

“I was fortunate to be involved in the QPR game and it was brilliant to see Dan come off the bench to make his debut.

“Just to be involved, to be in that environment and the manner in which we got through, it was one of the highlights of my season so far.

“If I’m involved against Swansea, then what more could you want – playing some minutes under the lights at Vitality Stadium in the FA Cup and trying to get through to the fifth round. You have to be ready if called upon and I feel I am.”

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