Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

It has been a long time coming, far too long for Alex Scott’s liking.

But finally, the most frustrating period in the Bournemouth midfielder’s career is nearing an end.

There is still no exact date pencilled in for the £25m summer signing to make his Cherries debut after he arrived at Vitality Stadium from Bristol City in August with a knee injury. However, we are now moving into the period of weeks rather than months.

Given they are still to win in the Premier League this season, Scott’s Bournemouth introduction cannot come soon enough with fans of the south coast club wanting to see why the 20-year-old was given the tag ‘Guernsey Grealish’.

“Being injured is the worst,” he said in an interview with BBC Sport.

“I have never really had a proper injury, more than one or two weeks. I have been smashing the gym, building myself up, getting as strong as I can and being as fit as possible to play.

“It is the final stretch now. I can’t wait to prove to everyone what I can do at the highest level. I am raring to go.”

Recovery is the latest step in a journey that took Scott on a weekly trip from the Channel Islands to train at Southampton, then, briefly, with Bournemouth, before he returned home to toughen up and relaunch his career.

“I was at Southampton for four-and-a-half years, from the age of eight,” he said.

“It was tough. Every Friday I would leave school halfway through the day to fly over to Southampton. I would be there for the weekend, train once on Friday night or Saturday morning and then play a game on the Sunday and fly back Sunday night.

“I would do all my schoolwork back home in Guernsey.”

After years of commitment to Southampton, when rejection then came it had a major impact on Scott.

Reflecting on that period, he says: “For me, my parents, my family, to put all that work and dedication into it and it to be ripped away, at 12 or 13 after you have put four-and-a-half years into it…

“For them to just say ‘no’, the way they did it, saying I am not going to be tall or strong enough… It gives you that fire in your belly to prove them wrong.”

Bournemouth were willing to offer Scott an opportunity but by the player’s own admission, his heart wasn’t in it. Instead, he went down another path.

“I wasn’t playing very well and flying over every week was becoming a bit too much,” he said.

“I just wanted to chill at home with my friends at weekends because I missed almost four-and-a-half years of doing that. To have that little bit of childhood back was something I definitely needed.

“To gain some confidence by coming back and playing local football was huge for me. It was probably one of the most important things that got me where I am today.”

Returning home meant playing against adults when he was just 16.

The Guernsey coach was an old friend of Bristol City technical director Brian Tinnion. Once Scott found his form, Tinnion was alerted and Scott went back across the Channel for a trial.

“It was chaos,” said Scott. “The first day I trained with the under-18s, the second day I trained with the first team, which was a complete shock.

“On the Wednesday I played for Guernsey FC in London, travelled back and on the Friday, I played for Bristol City Under-18s and scored a hat-trick. It was almost a done deal for me to sign a contract. I moved over pretty quickly in the January.”

Within 18 months, still some way short of his 18th birthday, Scott was making his senior debut against Luton.

A fortnight later, he started his first game and was an automatic selection from that moment on, winning last season’s EFL Championship Young Player of the Season, getting selected in the Team of the Year and winning Bristol City’s Player and Young Player of the Year awards.

Little wonder Premier League clubs started circling.

Wolves were keen but were unable to put a package together that would secure Scott’s services. Bournemouth were better placed to execute a deal, although the time it took for an agreement to be reached was tricky.

Scott joined Bournemouth in August on a long-term deal from Bristol City

“The longer it goes on, the tougher it gets,” he said.

“There was a lot in the summer about my future and I really wanted to be as respectful as possible to Bristol City.

“I think I did that. I trained every time I could. I played in all the pre-season games and did everything right. But the longer it goes on, you are wanting the move but it looks like it is not going to happen. In your head, you are thinking ‘I am going to be at Bristol City for the coming season’.

“I found out the news about my knee as well, which didn’t help the whole situation. As soon as the move got over the line, I was so delighted. It felt like a big weight off my shoulders.”

Over two months in and Scott is still to kick a ball in anger.

Bournemouth’s results in the meantime were OK until they were beaten 3-0 at Everton just before the international break. A home game against Wolves this weekend followed by another against Burnley seven days later will give a clearer indication about whether Andoni Iraola’s side have the capability to ease themselves clear of relegation trouble.

Coming after that is a trip to Manchester City on 4 November and a reminder of last season’s FA Cup meeting between the Blues and Bristol City, after which Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola described Scott as ‘an unbelievable player’.

The meeting also allowed a direct comparison with the player Scott models his own style on and now has the nickname to match.

“I have said multiple times how Jack Grealish is probably my favourite player and has been for the last few years,” he said. “The nickname comes off the back of that.

“The way we play is similar, albeit he is at a different level, so to get the name Guernsey Grealish is a nice little touch and does make you feel a bit happy inside.

“Hopefully I can kick on and achieve a small part of what he has done in his career.”

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