STEPHEN Purches has thrown down the gauntlet to members of Cherries’ development squad and urged them to “start knocking on the first-team door”.
Coach Purches, appointed permanently after hanging up his boots at the end of last season, will oversee their first friendly at Hamworthy Recreation tonight (6.30pm). Seven members of the squad – Baily Cargill, Brandon Goodship, Ben Whitfield, Jon Muleba, Harry Cornick, Josh O’Hanlon and Sam Matthews – are under contract for at least another two years.
They are joined by Josh Wakefield, Josh Carmichael, Aristide Bassele and Harrison Gilkes, who all penned new deals in the summer, and Jordan Holmes, Josh Kaye, Callum Buckley and Mason Walsh, who were promoted from the youth team.
Striker Jayden Stockley, who was also rewarded with a new contract when Cherries’ retained list was announced, is expected to feature against Hamworthy after returning to the development squad, although Cargill is in Austria with the first team and Cornick is injured.
Purches told the Daily Echo: “For some of them, this is the start and we want them to show what they are all about and why they are here in the first place.
“All the players in the squad need to make an impression on everybody, whether it is supporters, staff or the most important person, the manager. We will give them an opportunity and then it is up to them to take it.
“We have a good blend with a varying age range. You hope the older ones help the younger ones through and vice-versa. They all have different qualities but their ages shouldn’t matter if they are ready to show what they can do.”
Purches will run the rule over midfielder Aly Coulibaly, the younger brother of Cherries winger Mohamed Coulibaly. The 18-year-old was on the books at French club Tours and will be hoping to win a contract with the development squad.
“We tried to integrate him in training as quickly as we could and made him feel comfortable and confident,” said Purches, who confirmed Coulibaly junior had also trained with the club for a couple of days last summer.
“He is a different type of player to anyone else we have in the group so are hoping he will prove to be a good addition as time goes on. The development squad is here to bring players through and get them used to the ethos of the club before trying to push them on even further.”
Former skipper Miles Addison is also expected to play some part against Hamworthy having started the season training with Purches’s squad. However, Stephane Zubar, who has endured an injury-ravaged couple of years and was set to feature, is now unlikely to play. Purches added: “I always enjoyed playing against Hamworthy when we used to have our first friendly there. The pitch is excellent and so are the facilities at Hamworthy Club.”
Cost of entry is £5 for adults and £3 for concessions with accompanied under-10s admitted free.
Cherries: (from) Holmes, O’Flaherty, Addison, Muleba, Kaye, Buckley, McCarthy, Matthews, Whitfield, Wakefield, Carmichael, Gilkes, Walsh, Goodship, O’Hanlon, Bassele, Stockley.