FORMER Cherries goalkeeper Gareth Stewart believes Mark Travers is just one of many talented youngsters at the club who are capable of forging careers in the game.

Stewart, who played more than 150 games for Cherries between 1999 and 2008, re-joined the Dorset club to work in the academy in 2015 and has been in his current role of under-21s goalkeeping coach for the past two years.

During that time Stewart has worked closely with Travers, who made his first-team debut as a teenager in May and penned a new long-term contract with Cherries this week.

Asked if he was surprised to see the Irishman, now 20, called up into Eddie Howe’s side so soon, Stewart told the Daily Echo: “In some ways yes, but not for the talent that the boy’s got and there’s a few like him.

“I’m very pleased. You’re always pleased for young players going into it and stepping in and playing the way he did.

“You never know until they do it. Very, very pleased for him. He’s a good boy.

“He’s come onto the scene for everybody else but those internally know what groups we’ve got and that goes throughout the club.

“Whether it’s outfield players or goalkeepers, we know what we’ve got, we believe in them and it’s vindicated when he goes out and plays as well as that.

“But you have to believe in them and hopefully we’re doing the right thing with them and it’s proven whenever they get the opportunity, be that at League One or step three, four or five, wherever they’re playing and obviously in the Premier League for Mark and we’re just hoping we continue that.”

Travers moved from Ireland to join Cherries in 2016 and his only taste of senior football prior to his two games at the back end of 2018-19 came during a loan spell at non-league Weymouth.

Upon signing his new deal this week, the talented stopper said: “On a personal note, it was a great end to last season and to now get this deal sorted, it will really help me push on and into the new season.

“As soon as the offer was there, I was really keen to sign and commit my future to the club.

“The manager and backroom staff have been brilliant with me.

“I’ve developed as both a person and player during my time with the club and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Chief executive Neill Blake added: “Since joining the club, Mark has developed into an outstanding goalkeeper.

“Mark is a very humble, down-to-earth young man who knows he still has a lot of work to do.

“Crucially, there is still much more to come from him and so I am delighted that we have agreed a long-term contract with Mark.”

Asked how good a goalkeeper Travers could become, Stewart added: “Very good. He’s shown what he’s all about so who knows now where that takes him.

“We’ve got a good crop. A good goalkeeping department there so we’ll see what happens to all of them.

“Aaron Ramsdale did very, very well out on loan (at AFC Wimbledon) so we’ve got two now that have proven themselves at league level.

“Now we’ve just got to keep churning that out. That’s one of my jobs I’m afraid!”

The closing weeks of last season saw many of the club’s academy graduates named in a Premier League matchday squad, including Sam Surridge, Nnamdi Ofoborh and Kyle Taylor.

“It’s excellent for the club,” said Stewart.

“It’s what we’re in it for, certainly from a development point of view.

“We’re in it to get these boys through and get them playing at whatever level of football that is.

“If that’s in the Premier League and they’re on the bench or they’re in the FA Cup games or they’re getting themselves out into League One, League Two, Conference, whatever level they’re going to, so long as they’re out there playing football and they’re representing the club the way we believe they can, then we’re happy.”

Big news from the club off the pitch this summer saw Cherries take another step towards starting work on a new training ground at Canford Magna, which would see all of the club’s various age groups based at one facility.

“That’ll help all of us,” said Stewart.

“It’s another sign that the club is on the up, as we know. Long may that continue.”