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First team

Parker lauds whole squad for this season’s success

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Scott Parker heaped praise on the whole of his squad following the 1-0 victory over Millwall in AFC Bournemouth’s Sky Bet Championship finale.

Having been promoted to the Premier League against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, the Cherries went into today’s game unable to move position.

With play-offs still on the line for the Lions, the head coach made just three changes to his starting line-up with Emiliano Marcondes, Gavin Kilkenny and Robbie Brady coming in.

Speaking to the media for the last time this season, Parker said: “Emiliano, Gav, Robbie – they deserved their chance today. Emi was vitally important at the start of the season, same with Gav really.

“I know it’s probably not gone their way during the season, but they deserved their start today; it’s a shame that Emi didn’t get his goal."

“There’s a group of players here that have all contributed this year, and whether that’s a young boy who’s 18 years old that had to sit on the bench at West Brom, whether that’s someone who started the season – Gary Cahill, for example – if they’ve played 16 games or ten games, 12 games.

“The unbeaten run of games gave us a foothold in this division to be able to take it to the Forest game where we had to win to get promoted.

“Every single one of these players, I know I’ve only brought up a couple, but there are a lot of players that have all contributed to this.”

Despite the side’s place in the Premier League next season confirmed, Parker felt it important to approach the Millwall game with the same vigour as every other outing this term for several reasons.

“We’ve had purely professional heads on,” he explained. “We kept the integrity of the game, and I wouldn’t want it any other way if I was in the position that some of the other clubs were in today.

“I wanted to make sure that my team produced a performance. The objectives today, I set them out because we had things to play for.

“The record of clean sheets in this division, could we keep a clean sheet to be the team that has the most in this division? Could we be the team that conceded the least amount of goals? Could we be the team that lost the least amount of games as well?

“Them objectives were set to these players, and they fulfilled them. I was pleased with everything.”

With the curtain having come down on the 2021/22 Championship campaign, the Cherries gaffer looked ahead to the top flight.

Parker said: “We’re going into a division next year which is ruthless, which is clinical, it’s another ten steps up from what the Championship is.

“The gap between the Championship and the Premier League is vast. We’re going to need to build our game on a real solidness as a team, not just a ‘keeper and a back four.

“As a unit and as a team, we’re going to need to give ourselves a constant solid foundation

“The records put us in good stead but we’re going to face some challenges, of course we are.”

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