DEVELOPMENT coach Stephen Purches is backing his boys to keep pace with the first-team’s swift progress and play their part in a lasting legacy at Cherries.

During last season’s unparalleled growth and success at senior level, the Dean Court club also invested in the future by recruiting the likes of Jon Muleba, Ben Whitfield and Josh O’Hanlon for their talented crop of youngsters.

Promising youth-team graduates Jordan Holmes, Josh Kaye, Callum Buckley and Mason Walsh have added more competition for places as Purches prepares his batch of understudies for competitive action in the inaugural Development League Southern Division.

Cherries will do battle with Luton Town, AFC Wimble-don, Cambridge United, Gillingham, Leyton Orient, Peterbor-ough United and Portsmouth in an attempt to ready their rookies for the rigours of life in the Champion-ship, with Purches confident his squad will rise to the challenge and complement the club’s top stars.

Discussing the development squad’s progress during his 12 months in charge, Purches told the Daily Echo: “It has been a gradual process to build something that has become an integral part of the club.

“You want a proper pathway for this group of players and the next ones coming through to have the best chance of getting on but when players come out of youth football at 18, not all of them are ready.

“We want to produce players for this club. It is difficult because the standard is so high, we know that but the extra competitive edge we’re getting now gives these lads and the next ones coming through the best possible chance.

“If you can bring through home-grown players it makes everyone happy. Supporters and the local community at large get a buzz from seeing local boys do well.

“The main thing is that the management team all believe in trying to bring players through and when you have that from the top like we do, you stand a good chance of achieving something.

“They might not be in with the first team day in day out but with the way we work, everyone has a good understanding of how the first team plays so if they get thrown in there, they know what to expect.

“It has taken a lot of hard work from everybody involved to get to this stage. We have a lot of talent with players who are capable of making a real impact and hopefully we can keep improving.”