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Connell has high hopes for new recruits


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Coach Alan Connell is relishing the prospect of working with a new intake of first-year scholars as the AFC Bournemouth academy bids to produce “high quality players for the future of the club”.

Under-16 graduates Owen Bevan, Tom Rolls and Owen Palmer will be joined in the under-18s by new recruits Noa Boutin (pictured above with Kolo Toure), Josh Clarke and Ferdinand Okoh.

Pacey full-back Boutin, a 16-year-old Parisian, was invited for a trial after impressing academy recruitment staff playing for French club Boulogne-Billancourt.

Goalkeeper Clarke was previously on the books at Chelsea and had trials with a host of clubs including Borussia Dortmund and Monaco.

Former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder Okoh, who turned out for Cherries’ under-16s and under-18s last season, was scouted by head of academy recruitment Carl Robson.

Connell is hoping the Cherries will be given the green light to start pre-season training at the start of August before the new season kicks off in September.

Discussing the new signings, Connell told afcb.co.uk: “We thought we would struggle to get Josh because there was a lot of interest in him.

“We really liked him as soon as we saw him and he fits everything we want in a goalkeeper, both in personality and profile.

“We were absolutely delighted when he decided to sign for us. Hopefully, that’s a credit to the environment we create for our young players.

“Noa is moving over from Paris and is a great personality. He’s been learning English during the pandemic and has progressed really well. Hopefully, his football develops as well as his linguistic skills!

“He is an up-and-down full-back with lots of energy and definitely fits what this club likes to see in a full-back. He was everything we were looking for.

“For me, it’s new territory signing a player from France. He is a really exciting prospect and we are really looking forward to working with him.

“Ferdinand was released by Tottenham and we liked the look of him straightaway. He is a destructive central midfield player who likes to win back the ball and is also very tidy on it.”

And discussing the three graduates from the under-16s, Connell added: “Owen Bevan is a central defender who hails from Winchester.

“He has represented Wales under-17s and is an imposing figure who is very comfortable on the ball.

“Owen Palmer is a right-back and has been at the club for nearly six years. He is very composed in possession and likes to get forward and join in attacks.

“Tom Rolls is a creative midfielder who likes to get on the ball and make things happen. He can see a pass.”

Connell added: “This is still a very early stage in a player’s development and a lot can happen between the ages of 16 and 18.

“I am really looking forward to working with the new players every day in a full-time environment and starting with a new group is one of my favourite times of the year.

“It’s good to see them incorporating with the new second years and trying to carry on the club philosophy with a new team.

“We also need to make sure individuals continue to improve and develop as we strive to raise the bar which is what we are aiming to do as we look to produce high-quality players for the future of this club.”


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