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Under-21s

Clarke - I'm enjoying my football

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Academy shot-stopper, Josh Clarke, has been speaking about life on the south coast, having signed a two-year scholarship with the Cherries in the summer.

The youngster has predominantly been playing his football with Alan Connell’s under-18s, but earlier this week made his debut for the under-21s in their 3-1 defeat to Oxford, despite having only turned 16 at the end of July.

Speaking of the experience with afcb.co.uk, Clarke admitted that it was a good learning curve, with positives to take from the defeat.

“I’m very happy to make my debut,” he began.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted but for me it was a good experience and I really enjoyed it.

“It gives me confidence that I can play with the under-21s. Some of the other lads from the under-18s were there already, so playing with Owen Bevan, Jack Wadham and Matt Burgess helped.

“It’s all part of the experience getting on the coach and coming on an away day, but overall I enjoyed it. It was a good step up and I learned a lot from it.

“Being a 16-year-old playing in an under-21s cup is huge for me, so I’m just happy they trusted me to play in the game.

“There were three goals let in unfortunately, but for me personally I was happy with aspects of my performance. They’re things I can learn from it but I’m happy to make my debut.”

The first-year scholar, who also played rugby for Harlequins academy and cricket for Surrey during his youth, spoke of his experiences that he’s had since joining the Cherries and how they’ve helped him grow as a goalkeeper.

“During the international break, I was able to go with the first team goalkeepers and they were really helpful and encouraging.

“Asmir [Begovic] helped me out a lot, and Gaz [Stewart] and Lewis [Price] took the session as well, so it’s something I’ll never forget.

“I learned a lot – the pace and the tempo was so quick.

“Going with the under-18s, I try and apply that where I can and it was great to be in and around that during the international break.

“I’m enjoying every minute. We’ve done well in our under-18s league and we’ve kept six out of eight clean sheets, which I’m happy with.”

Speaking of his goals and ambitions for the season ahead, Clarke, formerly of Chelsea’s academy, expressed his desire for more international recognition.

The shot-stopper, who qualifies to play for Sweden through his mother, went on to explain more.

“I’ve been very lucky and I’ve been with Sweden in the last year, playing two games,” Clarke continued.  

“We played Finland and Norway and they were really good experiences. I remember getting on the coach and being slightly late and everyone looking at me!

“I’m actually also going to an England goalkeeping camp in two weeks. It’s all good experiences and I’m enjoying my football at the moment.

“I just want to try and keep playing under-18s games and if I can get in and around the under-21s, that’ll be great.”

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