Belfast Telegraph

Bournemouth new boy Lerma confident he’ll be fit soon

Colombian featured at the World Cup earlier this summer.

Jefferson Lerma insists he is almost ready for his Bournemouth debut, despite sitting out Saturday’s Premier League opener.

Colombia midfielder Lerma joined Bournemouth from Levante in a club-record £25million deal this week, but will miss the Cherries’ Dean Court clash with Cardiff this weekend.

Boss Eddie Howe has said record signing Lerma must go through a mini pre-season – that could take as long as a month – before being let loose on England’s top flight.

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Jefferson Lerma, pictured, is itching to make his Premier League debut for new club Bournemouth (Adam Davy/PA)

But Lerma believes he will be ready far sooner than that, targeting Bournemouth’s Premier League trip to West Ham on August 18 for a possible debut.

“I think I’ll be ready to play by the next game,” said Lerma, eyeing the Cherries’ trip to the London Stadium to make his first appearance in English football.

“It’s a big moment in my life to be here. I’m very excited, very happy.

“I’ve had one training session so far and I think I did well and impressed. I’ve spoken with the boss, so I’ll just carry on working hard to get my chance to play.

“I’m very passionate about the game and coming here. We’ll take it game by game and just keep trying to get better.”

Lerma has been compared to France World Cup-winner N’Golo Kante in terms of his game-breaking qualities. And the 23-year-old admitted he loves to win the ball and then launch fast breaks.

“I look up to try to counter-attack,” said Lerma.

“I’m quite strong and recover the ball very well, and I’m a good passer of the ball.”

Bournemouth boss Howe will give Lerma as long as he needs to find full match fitness, remaining unfazed about when the record recruit will take to the field.

“Jefferson’s only had one training session with us,” said Howe, of Lerma.

“He’s come to us off the back of not training after the World Cup so that will be an issue for us, in the sense we’ve got to build up his fitness and help him acclimatise to the team and the squad.

“So there may be a period where people don’t see him, but we want to get him up to speed.

“I’m sure there’s other players who were at the World Cup who won’t play this weekend.

“The difficulty for us is that Jefferson just hasn’t trained.

“So to involve him ahead of players who have played a full pre-season would be foolish.

“So we’ve got to make sure that when J steps onto the field he’s ready to play at his best level, so we’ll do some work with him behind the scenes.

“If he’s not fit enough to play it would be foolish to play him. We would never tell a player to miss the whole of pre-season then step up and play.

“It’s just not going to happen. So we’ll take our time with him and make sure he’s right.”

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