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Under-18s

Khavarn has seized his opportunity

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth under-18 coach Alan Connell wants his first-year scholars to take inspiration from Khavarn Williams’s on-pitch exploits during the past month.

Late starter Williams has seized his chance with both hands after stepping in to replace injured leading marksman Christian Saydee.

Frontman Williams, 17, joined the Cherries a month into the season, the Londoner having spent five years on the books at Fulham.

Utilised predominantly from the bench as Saydee continued to terrorise defences, Williams has starred since being elevated to the starting line-up in his team-mate’s absence.

Williams, who is a first-year scholar, has netted six goals in the Cherries’ past five games, including the winner in their FA Youth Cup triumph over Cardiff City at Vitality Stadium on Tuesday.

He will be hoping to maintain his rich vein of form when a much-changed and youthful Cherries team faces Cambridge United in the area semi-final of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup tomorrow (12.30pm).

Connell will be forced to make changes for the clash at Newmarket Town as some members of his squad are on stand-by for the Cherries’ Premier League Cup clash at Nottingham Forest.

Discussing Williams’s progress, Connell told afcb.co.uk: “We took Khavarn in September and he hadn’t had a pre-season. Physically, he’s still got a lot of work to do and he’s not as fit as we would want him to be.

“But he’s stepped up and has had more opportunities since Christian’s injury. He’s more of a wide player but I like him centrally at the moment.

“I didn’t expect him to be scoring goals at this early stage. And he’s not just scoring goals, he’s scoring big goals.

“We’ve got a lot of first years playing at the moment and football is all about players getting opportunities.

“When there are injuries or players get taken into the under-21s or train with the first team, it gives people a chance to show what they can do.

“That’s why you have a squad and, hopefully, these boys will take their opportunity and give me more things to think about in the coming weeks.”

The Cherries were due to face Cambridge at their Clare College training ground on Saturday but the tie has been brought forward 24 hours and switched to Newmarket Town due to concerns over the weather.

Connell explained: “Their training ground is under water and they said they could have made a late call on Saturday morning which probably means it would have been 50-50.

“Both teams want the game on and want to play it this weekend so we’re going to play at Newmarket Town which is a new 4G pitch, similar to what we played on at Dorchester last week.

“It’s caused a few minor logistical problems for both clubs but it will be good to play the game because we have a busy schedule in the next few weeks.

“We will be looking to put on a performance and, hopefully, reach the area final. If we could back up what we did against Cardiff then it would be a really good start to the year.”

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