Belfast Telegraph

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe hails 'shining example' Marc Pugh

Eddie Howe has hailed Marc Pugh for keeping his Bournemouth future alive the hard way.

Pugh's sharp volley secured a 1-0 win over Leicester on Tuesday and steered Bournemouth to their highest-ever Premier League position of eighth.

Winger Pugh has risen through the divisions with Bournemouth after joining the club in League One in 2010, and made 15 Premier League starts last term.

The 29-year-old has had to endure a prolonged stint with the Cherries' under-21s to force his way back into the first team this term however - leaving manager Howe delighted with Pugh's throwback attitude.

"I thought Marc was absolutely magnificent and he's one of the shining examples of what I look for in a Bournemouth player," said Howe of Pugh's match-winning turn against Leicester.

"He's been out of the squad - not just out of the team but out of the squad. He's had to wait, bide his time, be patient. He's been the model professional.

"He's trained well, played development games, he's travelled all the way across the country to play in development games, which is unlike the modern Premier League player.

"So he deserves this moment more than anyone, and I'm delighted for him."

Pugh's smart volleyed finish on Tuesday proved just rewards on his first Premier League start of the campaign.

The former Hereford midfielder has turned out for Bournemouth's youngsters in the Central League when surplus to first-team requirements this term.

The experienced campaigner could easily have looked for a way out, but Howe believes his tenacity in fighting back into the senior side underlines the depths of Bournemouth's squad spirit.

"We try to evolve the team and push the team on, but I always pick what I believe to be the best team for the next game," said Howe.

"And he has the qualities that we look for in a Bournemouth player, he works hard and he's technically excellent. He's just had to wait for his opportunity and when it's come he's done very well."

Bournemouth roll on to face local rivals Southampton at Dean Court on Sunday, with Howe confident his high-flying players can easily keep progress in perspective.

Hailing Arsenal loanee Jack Wilshere's best game of the season against Leicester, Howe admitted facing the Saints will be another big test.

"I'm delighted with the flexibility of the squad, when you consider Jack played deeper and I thought was magnificent, really, really good," said Howe.

"I think that was his best game for us, he really, really influenced the play with the ball."

Howe added: "I don't think we'll have a problem keeping things under wraps, in terms of the players' mindsets.

"Our challenge now to the players is can we win consecutive games for the first time this season?

"We're playing Southampton in a local derby. We know what it means to our fans, we know the importance of the game, so rest assured we'll be ready for it."

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri hopes the impending return of Danny Drinkwater and Kasper Schmeichel can boost his ailing Foxes.

Drinkwater should beat knee trouble and Schmeichel a broken hand to be available for Saturday's trip to Stoke.

The East Midlands men now possess the worst away-day record for any reigning champions after eight Premier League matches on the road.

With just one point in those eight matches away from home and eight defeats in 16 in all, Ranieri admitted his men need a boost.

Leicester will face Sevilla in the last 16 of the Champions League, but when quizzed on his feelings on the draw, Ranieri would only insist that his men are back to being underestimated by the masses.

"All the other teams wanted to play against us, because we are underdogs against everybody," said Ranieri.

"I hope Danny and Kasper can both be available on Saturday."

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