RYAN Fraser is doing a good job of hiding his emotions.
Although the Scotsman seems fairly jovial as he chats to the Daily Echo, the impending arrival of a notable birthday is clearly bugging him.
“It’s going to be depressing turning 20!” laughs the winger, who will be hoping to mark his big day on Monday by earning a call up to the Scotland under-21 squad.
“I like being a teenager and, hopefully, there is still a long time in football for me yet. I am the youngest player by a mile and I feel like the baby of the squad!”
While Fraser concedes he is “not the brainiest”, he is a warm and humourous character, whose quick wit belies his tender years.
He also possesses an abundance of potential, something Eddie Howe first spotted during his time at Burnley before beating off a host of other clubs to sign him for Cherries.
A £400,000 recruit from Scottish Premier League outfit Aberdeen, Fraser made his Cherries debut a year ago this weekend when he came off the bench during a 1-0 defeat by Sheffield United.
“Things have gone better than I thought they would,” said Fraser. “I didn’t think I would be playing regularly like I have in the Championship. I have had a lot of games, especially at the start of the season, and it is good to be playing at this level at my age.
“It has benefited me in so many ways and given me confidence because I know I can do it. When I first came, I thought I would maybe be on the bench or playing development squad games. But I have been involved a lot with the first team. At my age, I knew I wouldn’t play every game but just being involved is good enough for me.”
Fraser, who has 23 Championship appearances to his name, has been laid low by a nasty bout of bronchitis recently after the illness crept up on him as he sat on the bench at Bolton a fortnight ago.
The youngster has had his share of setbacks during the past 12 months and his career with Cherries was delayed after he picked up a hip injury during the warm-up ahead of a 3-1 defeat at Walsall as the ink was still drying on his three-and-a-half year contract.
“It was a bad start for me,” said Fraser, who has settled into a flat near Canford Cliffs. “I have turned my hip twice and had a couple of hamstring injuries. But I have still started 18 games and come off the bench eight times this season.
“If you look in the Championship, there aren’t many players of my age playing regularly so I take a lot from that as well.
“As I get older, I will mature and learn. Sometimes, I do extra training when perhaps I shouldn’t and I need to start telling peo ple I am done for the day. But I am so desperate to improve.”
Fraser, who is also a member of the Costa Coffee crew along with Marc Pugh, Shaun MacDonald and Benji Buchel, admits all the players helped him settle after he made the move from one end of Britain to the other: “They made me feel welcome and the manager takes us team-bonding which is good.
“I used to see my family every day because I lived at home. It has been different and they haven’t been down as often as I would have liked. In football, you need to make a lot of sacrifices to become the best you can and I don’t let it get to me.”
Asked whether he took much ribbing due to his age, Fraser replied: “They always take the Mickey and there are some real dafties in the squad. But they tend not to do it in front of (fellow Scotsman) Richard Hughes because they know they will have him to answer to and he’s the Guv’nor!”