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Under-18s

Anthony an ‘inspiration’ for Johnson ahead of season opener

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth under-18s winger Baylin Johnson is looking to Jaidon Anthony as an ‘inspiration’ ahead of his side’s season opener.

Alan Connell’s team get their EFL Youth Alliance League campaign underway on Saturday morning against Exeter City at Canford Park Arena (11am kick-off).

Later the same day, the first team will be starting their Premier League season by hosting Aston Villa at Vitality Stadium (3pm kick-off).

The fixture for Scott Parker and his side may offer academy graduates Mark Travers, Jaidon Anthony and Jordan Zemura the chance to impress at the apex of English football.

With all having previously been in the position of Johnson on the eve of a new campaign, their journeys are ones which he takes motivation from.

“We definitely look at what they’ve done,” he told afcb.co.uk. “Especially with Jaidon, for me personally.

“I look at him as an inspiration because he’s had a very similar journey to me; he was at Arsenal when he was younger, got released and came to Bournemouth.

“To see him flourishing and playing out on the pitch on a Saturday is a really good thing to see.”

The Grecians’ visit comes following a competitive pre-season schedule for the under-18s which has seen them face the youngsters of Arsenal, Chelsea and Rangers, amongst others.

Connell’s team brought their warm-up fixtures to a close last weekend in a defeat to Wimborne Town’s first team, which Johnson felt he had taken a lot out of.

He explained: “I feel like we’ve competed really well and shown that we can play at that level, too. We’ve competed in all of the games and not looked a weaker side.

“The last friendly against Wimborne, that was a totally different challenge with it being a first team.

“There were a lot of lessons to take from that one that we can use to fuel us for the season to come.”

That season begins on Saturday, and it is one which the young winger is looking towards with plenty of anticipation.

“I’m just excited really,” he said. “It will be a good first game against a good opposition to kick start our season.

“Hopefully, we can get the three points and kick on from there.”

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