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Under-21s

Cooper's New Squad Brimming with potential

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Coach Shaun Cooper believes every member of the AFC Bournemouth under-21 squad has the potential to break into the first team at some stage of their career.

Cooper was speaking after the club announced new contracts for a number of players – with six graduates from Alan Connell’s successful under-18s joining his group.

Before last season was brought to a premature end, the Cherries’ under-21s had been enjoying a fruitful campaign, reaching the last 16 of the Premier League Cup and the semi-finals of the Central League Cup and the Hampshire Senior Cup.

Striker Jake Scrimshaw, who had a loan spell with National League Eastleigh during the second half of 2019/20, has been rewarded for his progress with a new two-year contract.

One-year deals were handed to goalkeeper Calum Ward and defenders Tyler Cordner, Brennan Camp, Zeno Ibsen Rossi, Jordan Zemura, Shaun Hobson, Dinesh Gillela and Corey Jordan.

Midfielders Luke Nippard, Frank Vincent and George Hunt were also given 12-month contracts, as were forwards Keelan O’Connell, Jaidon Anthony and Ryan Glover.

Speaking to afcb.co.uk, Cooper said: “The players we have kept and the ones who have progressed from the under-18s all have the potential to impact the first team further down the line.

“We wouldn’t have taken any of them if we didn’t feel they had the opportunity to progress. But, of course, everybody’s development moves at a different speed.

“Some might be knocking on the door two or three years down the line and, for others, it might be sooner.

“We definitely think all of them have the ability and potential to put themselves up for consideration.

“First and foremost, our priority is to try to prepare players for this club and get them to suit the manager’s requirements.”

Several of Cooper’s squad are likely to be given valuable experience with loan clubs next season, with each player assessed individually.

“There is a lot to consider when we loan out a player,” said Cooper. “We need to ask what the player currently needs both physically and technically and we need to know they are ready for the level. We also have to weigh up which ones the manager will want in and around his squad regularly.

“Once our season gets going and we have had a chance to look at everybody when they come back, then we can start making those decisions. It’s different for every individual.

“The lads coming up from the under-18s can go on youth loans and that can be really beneficial.

“They can dip their toes into men’s football and, if they don’t get the game time we want, we can pull them back.”

Asked specifically about Scrimshaw winning a two-year contract, Cooper said: “He’s done well. He had a good loan move last season and is a player we think has real promise and potential.

“He’s a handful to play against and a great player to have in your team. He earned his two years and we will see where that goes.

“Being a goalscorer and an attacking player, he only has to go on loan and bang in a few goals and everyone would be interested in him so tying him up is a good thing for him and the club.”

Five players – Tom Dinsmore, Tyrell Hamilton, Charlie Seaman, Jake Cope and Tom Hanfrey – were not kept on, something Cooper said had been a difficult decision.

“It’s never easy releasing a player but there’s no point keeping somebody if you feel they are not going to impact our first team,” added Cooper.

“That doesn’t mean they are not going to impact another club or have a good career in the game, it just means we feel there are other players we have brought up who have a bit more promise.

“It’s just the nature of the game, it’s not nice to do but they are the decisions we have made.”

The six graduates from the under-18s are Cameron Plain, Christian Saydee, Ben Greenwood, Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Connor Kurran-Browne and Brooklyn Genesini.

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