CHERRIES took another big step forward off the field this week with amended plans for the club’s new multi-million-pound training complex submitted to BCP council.

The club in 2017 obtained planning permission to build on the 57-acre former Canford Magna Golf Club site.

Once plans are approved, work will “start immediately” on the new state-of-the-art centre, which is set to house nine full-size pitches, an indoor artificial playing surface and sports science and medical facilities.

This news appeared unlikely just a matter of months ago.

In October 2018, the club’s development plans had been put on hold with the Cherries board admitting hopes to build a new stadium by 2020 had been “overly optimistic”.

But by April, it was announced that work was due to begin “imminently” at Canford Magna in a move which boss Eddie Howe at the time said would “provide a legacy from the club being in the Premier League”.

Perhaps understandably, news of the development of a new training ground led to some fans calling for the club to instead focus their attention on building a bigger stadium.

Vitality Stadium’s capacity of 11,450 is the smallest in the top-flight by some margin, with Watford’s Vicarage Road next on the list, housing 21,577.

While it will still be hoped that the club can soon increase the capacity of their home ground, the work at Canford Magna will undoubtedly be of bigger benefit to the club in the longer term.

For many supporters, a fortnightly trip to Vitality Stadium is their main opportunity to assess progress at the club.

However, for players and staff it is a different story. The training ground is the first place any prospective new signings will be taken to and shown around with this being their day-to-day place of work. And first impressions are so often imperative, especially if Cherries are looking to battle fellow Premier League clubs and the facilities they can offer to their players.

Another big boost which will arise from the move to Canford Magna is the ability for all of the club’s age groups to train in one location.

At present, the first team train adjacent to Vitality Stadium at Kings Park, while younger players practice elsewhere.

Under new plans, the first team, development squad, academy and pre-academy training will all take place at Canford Magna.

Sustainability for any club should come from the amount of players they can develop through their own system, something which is becoming increasingly difficult for Cherries given the quality of opposition they face on a weekly basis in the Premier League.

Howe has blooded some of the club’s youngsters in recent years. Jack Simpson, 22, made 11 appearances for the first team last season, but no other academy graduate featured in more than two games for Cherries.

The under-21 side were successful in 2018-19, winning the Central League Cup, but the new training facilities will help the club in pushing towards improving their academy status from category three to start attracting higher quality youngsters from an early age.

The new facility and plans laid out by the club have a clear focus on trying to showcase a pathway for players at Cherries, while maintaining their place in the Premier League, which can never be taken for granted.

Discussing the proposed development at Canford Magna, Howe said: “This is huge news for everyone connected with the club.

“It has been vitally important that we improve our infrastructure.

“It will enable us to get the best out of every single player on our books, help attract new players to the club and, crucially, improve our academy status to develop more young players who will hopefully go on to become first-team players.”

The day work does finally commence at Canford Magna is likely to go down as an historic moment for the club.