RISING star Baily Cargill revealed how a loan stint at AFC Totton had given his career the perfect platform, admitting: "I felt like I was playing in the Premier League!"

Following a string of loan spells, the 21-year-old defender made his league debut for Cherries in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this month.

The 12-minute outing off the bench in front of 75,000 fans was a far cry from Cargill's first taste of senior football as a 17-year-old, when he turned out for AFC Totton in the Southern League.

And although Cargill went on to win the fans’ player-of-the-year award thanks to a string of stellar displays for the Stags, he admitted he had initially felt thrown in at the deep end.

He told the Daily Echo: "I was at AFC Totton as a second-year scholar and that really put me in the right direction.

"I was really nervous when I first went there. I felt like I was playing in the Premier League! It was completely different to anything I had been used to.

"I was going up against players who had played at that level for a long time and they knew how to play in that league so I had to learn quickly and I think I did.

"It probably wasn't the most important loan in terms of the technical side of football but for me to become a bit more physical and learn the game that way, it was a very good loan.

"I played a lot of games and learned a lot."

Cargill went on to experience loan stints at Welling, Torquay, Coventry and Gillingham.

The Winchester-born centre-half said: "I've gone all the way through. Welling was a step up. It was Conference football against full-time players and then the same season I went to Torquay. That was an interesting one because they were fighting relegation.

"I only went there for five games and, unfortunately, they got relegated. But for me that was a good situation to be in and I learned a lot there as well, as it was my first experience of the Football League.

"All my loans have been good. I really enjoyed Coventry although, unfortunately, I got injured there and then Gillingham was positive as well."

Cargill said he would encourage any young pro to tread a similar path and use loan spells to as a springboard to play higher up the ladder.

He added: "Under-21s football is completely different to men's football and professional football. Even if you are going on loan to somewhere like AFC Totton, it's probably more worthwhile than playing an under-18s or under-21s game because they are not as physical or taxing.

"I would definitely say to anyone of my age or younger who wanted to get experience, to go out on loan.

"I've played in front of 100 people at Totton and played in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford, so it's been a big road for me."