WHILE Lloyd Kelly admits there have been “many negatives” on the injury front surrounding his first season at Cherries – he still has the fire and mental toughness to show everyone what he is capable of.

One year to the day, the talented defender put the finishing touches on a whirlwind £13million transfer to the Dorset club from Bristol City – making his dream move to the Premier League come true.

But injuries sustained to his ankle, thigh and hamstring this campaign have, at present, denied him the opportunity to perform at England’s elite level.

Kelly’s only first-team appearance for Cherries came in the Carabao Cup at Burton last September. He has also featured in the Premier League Cup and Hampshire Senior Cup with the under-21s.

At just 21 years of age, the luckless situation could be tough for a young player to deal with.

Bournemouth Echo:

But, with the desire to study the mindsets of the sporting greats and their influencers – as well as work on the psychology of his own game – Kelly believes the setbacks have made his mind stronger.

“You can’t really hide away from the fact I haven’t really played a substantial part in how the season has gone on,” the England under-21 international exclusively told the Daily Echo.

“I had a good pre-season and I was in a good place leading into the start of the season. The way injuries have happened, it’s just kind of halted my development in a sense.

“I was looking to play as many games as I could, whether that was in the Premier League or the different cups.

“As a whole, there are many negatives but, for me, you can take the positives that I’ve been in that situation now.

“The amount I’ve developed this year in terms of my mental side of the game and things like that has been good for me.

“Nine times out of 10 you aren’t going to have this much time on your hands being injured and things like that, to focus on different areas you wouldn’t necessarily do when you have back-to-back games every week.”

Does the defender believe he is a stronger character now, than 12 months ago? Kelly replied: “Yeah, 100 per cent. That’s the best way to put it.”

Bournemouth Echo:

As well as looking to get back up to full speed and help Eddie Howe’s side remain in the top flight, Kelly has used his time away from match action wisely.

He has a new-found love of reading, after taking on a book called The Alchemist from former Bristol City team-mate Joe Bryan.

The Cherries defender is currently reading ‘Relentless’ by Tim Grover, who worked with some of America’s sporting superstars. “Sometimes it’s not even the fact you need help,” said Kelly.

“It’s just being able to have that different bit of learning throughout the season. You can be surprised of how much you can learn and develop mentally in the space of eight or nine months.

"The Alchemist is one of my favourite books that I’ve read. At the moment, I am reading a book called Relentless.

“It’s written by a guy called Tim Grover. He’s a coach in America who, throughout the years has worked with a load of different elite athletes in the NBA and baseball.

"He’s worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and people like that.

“He goes through the mentality that some of the players he worked with had.

“The way he would coach them and things like that, you pick different stuff up as you go through the books. It’s a very good book to recommend to anyone in the sport or even the business world.

“I think you would be surprised in how much it can help. You may just read through a book and not feel you have learned anything.

“But then maybe a couple of weeks down the line you get put in a situation where, if you didn’t read the book or pick up something subconsciously from in the book, it can help you.

“It’s a good thing to do. I wasn’t really a big reader but within this past year I have got into it a bit more.”

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With his mindset in a positive place, would Kelly now be physically ready to make his return this season, if the green light is given for the Premier League to resume?

“At the moment I am in a very good place with my rehab and being able to return, if the games do return,” he said.

“I am confident in where I am at the moment and just ready for when the games do start back.

“As soon as this lockdown started, it gave me a fair bit of time to make sure I was ready for when I do come back.

“There’s no rush in that sense but – in my mind – that’s all I want to do really, is get fit and have a part to play in the rest of the season, if it does continue.

“This season I’d have liked to have made my Premier League debut already but the way things have turned out. It just hasn’t been.

“But I still have that same energy from when I first came and wanted to make my debut. That hunger and that fire is still there.

“I’ll be raring to go if the games get the green light.”