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AFC Bournemouth: Eddie Howe urges young guns to seize chance
Howe and members of his backroom team will be among the crowd when Cherries host Hereford United in the third round of the FA Youth Cup (7pm).
Exempt until this stage, Cherries will be bidding to reach the fourth round for the first time in 17 years – with a trip to either Manchester City or Doncaster Rovers at stake for the victors.
Howe has publicly stated promotion to the Championship will restrict the number of home-grown players blooded in the first team with only “exceptional talents” likely to break through.
A graduate of the club’s youth ranks in 1996, Howe has rewarded a clutch of rising stars with their first professional contracts, including the likes of Sam Matthews, Baily Cargill and Jake McCarthy.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “It is a bigger stage and a bigger crowd than they will be used to. The management and coaching staff will be there so it is a good chance for us to assess the younger players to see how they are developing.
“It is a big game for them and we want them to pull out all the stops because that is the nature of the business. They have an opportunity to impress and have to try to grab it. Sometimes, that dictates the standard of player because the talented and mentally strong boys do come through and that is what we are looking for.”
Howe added: “The FA Youth Cup was one of the biggest occasions of my young career. It was the game you looked forward to more than any other. It was a chance to play under the floodlights and in front of a crowd at your stadium, which was a rare event for a young player. One of my best early memories of professional football was beating Swansea 5-0 in the competition.
“These games are pretty much a replica of first-team games. You get that pressure and that sense of expectation and excitement, which are all the emotions you feel before a first-team game. It is really good preparation for the lads who are hoping to have a career in professional football.”
The Cherries squad includes Mason Walsh, son of former England international Paul Walsh, who won the FA Cup with Spurs in 1991, and midfielder Luke Holmes, son of Matty Holmes, an ex-player at Dean Court and now the club’s technical development officer.
Both teams compete in the south west division of the Youth Alliance and Hereford, who are managed by former Cherries loan player Peter Beadle, have already seen off Chesterfield, MK Dons, Atherstone Town, Newcastle Town and Stourbridge having started out in qualifying.
Cherries: (from) J Holmes, Lee, West, Kaye, McCarthy, Hansford, Randall, Matthews, Walsh, Butcher, Harris, Fontain, Buckley, Simpson, L Holmes, Kirkwood, Quigley, Roberts, Banaghan.
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