CHAMPIONS League winning defender Gary Cahill believes new centre-back partner Lloyd Kelly “could go on to real big things” in the game.

The 35-year-old was speaking after making his debut for Cherries alongside Kelly in a 3-0 victory over Barnsley on Saturday.

Former Bristol City ace Kelly has been an integral part of Scott Parker’s plans this season, having not missed a minute in his side’s opening six Championship contests.

The ex-England under-21 international has also taken the captain’s armband this campaign under Parker, while Steve Cook has been out of the side.

And Cahill, who has eight major trophies and 61 England caps on his illustrious CV, insists he sees a player who may “go to the very top”.

Asked about working with Kelly ahead of tomorrow’s home Championship clash with Queens Park Rangers (7.45pm), Cahill told the Daily Echo: “First of all, he’s got huge talent. The boy could be – if he keeps developing – could go on to real big things.”

He added: “He is aggressive. Very quick, very comfortable on the ball and very vocal for a young boy, which is great to see.

“He has got massive attributes to go on. With the young players, to consistently churn that out every single game, with your levels at seven, eight or above, that’s his aim.

“All the attributes and the ability he’s got, he’s got it to go to the very top – I see at the moment. I’ve only worked with him a couple of weeks, so it’s very early days.

“But to deliver every single week is what the best players do, I’m sure him along with the other boys can do that.”

Cahill made his return to the Championship stage with Cherries, having originally cut his teeth in the division at the likes of Burnley and Sheffield United while on loan as a youngster.

And he remembers how much playing alongside established senior professionals did to enhance his game.

He said: “My experiences with the more senior players when I was young like Chris Morgan (at Sheffield United), John McGreal when I was at Burnley, Frank Sinclair.

“These players brought me on because of the experiences they had in the game. They had gone through ups and downs.

“I almost felt like playing with these boys, because they had done so much in the game and played so many league games in their career – you just had to worry about your performance.

“You didn’t have to worry about what they were doing next to you because they were experienced enough to deal with whatever came their way. They were very vocal and big characters in the teams I was in.

“As a young boy you soak up everything that’s good, or you should do – learning from people that have ultimately done more than you at that moment in time.

“Those boys brought me on massively. I don’t know if I can do the same with these (at Cherries), hopefully I can.

“But it’s been great working with, not just Lloyd but all the other young defenders here. I have only been here a couple of weeks, so it’s very early days.

“But if they ever need any advice or whatever, I’m here. I have to worry about delivering myself on the pitch first of all, as well as helping these young boys. That’s my objective.”