Kilkenny in contention to start against Dons

Gavin Kilkenny has started in all three of Bournemouth’s pre-season friendlies and looks set to play a big part in this Saturdays EFL cup tie with MK Dons.

The young Irishman made his first Cherries appearance under Eddie Howe in 2019 in that year’s edition of the competition against Forest Green, and now the central midfielder could become a key part in new boss Scott Parker’s side.

With several players either injured or suspended in the midfield role, Parker revealed Kilkenny has an opportunity to stamp his authority on the team.

He said: “It’s down to Gav, he has had 5 or 6 weeks with us and there is competition for that position, with [Jefferson] Lerma, Ben Pearson and Lewis Cook – when he comes back – at this present moment in time those players are not around and Gav needs to understand and put his foot forward and make a big impression on me and this team.”

The 21-year-old has only played one minute of Championship football but the Cherries boss believes he has the attributes to be successful and become an important part of the first team.

Parker added: “Technically he is a really nice, sound football player, and the way I want my teams to play, I want technical ability in my players who are comfortable in possession and comfortable with the ball and clever. 

“Gav ticks those boxes.”

Kilkenny got off to a slow start on Tuesday night against the newly crowned European champions but it was the Irishman’s reaction that Parker was impressed by.

He continued: “He has done very well and I have been impressed. 

“The other night he grew into the game massively. 

“He struggled in the first part of the game but as the game went on it was a big testament to him and I was saying I was really pleased with him with how he reacted to that and how he recovered well and I was really impressed the longer the game went on.”

With the squad being light on central midfielders, due to the absence of Lerma, Pearson and Cook, there is a definite opportunity for Kilkenny to stake his claim this weekend when MK Dons come to the Vitality Stadium.

Parker didn’t dismiss the idea of sending the player out on loan either and is keeping his options open, but is happy with the players progress so far.

He added: “At the end of the window we will see where he is – at this moment in time he is in a good spot.”

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