ALAN Connell admits Cherries did not plan to loan Baylin Johnson out this season, but described the chance for him to move to Lecce as “a unique experience”.

Winger Johnson is currently spending the year in Italy, on a season-long switch to the Serie A club.

He has linked up with their under-19s, making three appearances so far against Verona, Sampdoria and Juventus.

When the deal was announced, Lecce said the loan includes an option to make the deal permanent for the Englishman for an undisclosed fee.

It is certainly a left-field move for Johnson, who joined Cherries in October 2020 following his release by Arsenal, and spent part of last season on loan with Dorchester Town.

Asked how the move to Lecce came about, Cherries development squad boss Connell told the Daily Echo: “His agent had mentioned a couple of clubs previously.

“We were open to a loan, just because it was such a unique experience and eventually Lecce came up.

“We like Baylin and the plan was probably to keep him this season, playing in the Professional Development League.

“But then us and Baylin looked at it and thought it’s a great opportunity, a new experience for him.

“Like I said to him before he went, he’s still our player. We just want him to go and have a great experience and come back a better player.”

Discussing the 18-year-old further, Connell added: “He's come a long way, Baylin, in the last two-and-a-half years since he’s been here.

“We really hope he has a great experience in Italy with Lecce.”

Connell’s development squad face Wolverhampton Wanderers at AFC Telford’s New Bucks Head on Friday in the Premier League Cup (7pm).