STEPHEN Purches has hinted at the possibility of Cherries forging an informal link with Linfield – the Northern Ireland Premiership club managed by Dean Court old boy Warren Feeney.
Cherries’ development squad coach embarked on a fact-finding mission to Belfast last month and was impressed with the set up at Windsor Park, home to the Northern Ireland national team.
Feeney, who played alongside Purches at Dean Court, took the reins at Linfield in May after leaving former Conference outfit Salisbury where he had been assistant boss to Mikey Harris.
Purches told the Daily Echo: “Linfield are a big club in their league and they get big crowds. I went over to see Feeno a few weeks after he had got the job and it was a good trip for many reasons.
“At some point during the season, it might benefit some of our lads to go there for a different experience in their development. Nothing has been set in stone and we will have to wait and see.
“I went over to see how things work and had a good look round the club and the area. I know Feeno has been working very hard to try to make the club how he wants it.”
Purches joined Eddie Howe’s backroom staff on a permanent basis after announcing his retirement at the end of last season. He took charge of the club’s development squad 12 months ago and utilised the loan market during his first year in charge.
“I am a big fan of the loan system,” added Purches. “I felt it worked very well for us last season. We managed to get every player out on loan at some point and they all came back better for it.
“It is a different form of development and, although the players still have the same core values, they have to fit in with a different team and find different ways of winning.”
Feeney, who was capped 46 times by Northern Ireland, is a lifelong Linfield supporter and guided them into the second qualifying round of the Europa League, the Blues recording a shock 1-0 win over AIK Stockholm in the first leg on Thursday.
The 33-year-old told the Daily Echo: “I watched the development squad play and train a few times when I was at Salisbury last season. Purchy is doing a great job with them and they have some very good players.
“I know the first-team squad is packed with quality players and it must be tough for the young lads to break in so going on loan to league clubs can only benefit them, whether that’s in England or here.
“I remember going on loan to Bournemouth when I was at Leeds and it was just the kick-start my career needed. If any players were to come here, I’m sure it would work for both parties.”