Written by Michael Gillett (@MichaelBG1212)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hailed in-form striker Josh King, as well as ‘outstanding’ Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, ahead of tomorrow’s clash at the King Power Stadium.
During the international break 27-year-old King was instrumental in Norway’s 3-3 home draw with World Cup quarter-finalists Sweden.
The forward scored a close-range header for the second goal, just three days before he struck from the spot in a 2-1 defeat to Spain.
Howe commended the Cherries’ second-highest goalscorer this season in his pre-match press conference.
He said: “I think Josh is a very important player. He has been very important since signing for the club. He brings that physicality, pace and technique to that front line. He is on top goalscoring form for his national team and for us. So I think he is in a very good place.”
King has scored 11 goals for the club this season, including the brace in the last league game – a frustrating 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle.
Former Cherries winger Matt Ritchie had equalised for the visitors with just seconds left.
That result will have been frustrating for Bournemouth, and they will look to rectify that against Leicester.
However, 1988 was the last time the Cherries won at Leicester, in a Division Two tie. However since promotion to the Premier League, Howe’s side has never lost with all three clashes resulting in draws.
Two back-to-back wins against Fulham and Burnley have seen a turn in fortune for Leicester who recently sacked Claude Puel. And the introduction of ex-Celtic boss Rodgers appears to have had a positive impact.
Howe added: “I am expecting a tough game. Brendan has come in and had a real impact on the team and that is no surprise to me. He is a really forward-thinking coach. He is outstanding at what he does. They have a really good squad and it is a good fit for him.
“We know how difficult the game will be but we go there with confidence.”
Just yesterday Bournemouth had reported an £11m annual loss in their accounts, and Howe was honest in admitting it is hard for a club of the Cherries’ size in the Premier League:
“I think that with this sort of club we are slightly different to anyone else in the Premier League. We have been on our own journey to this point. Operating in a financial loss is never something we want to do but I think there will be some short-term pain for club until we can move to a bigger ground and increase our revenue stream.”
Howe did however offer optimism for the long-term prospects of the club, saying:
“We are trying to recruit more younger players. From a financial point of view, I don’t think this affects our vision for the team and our ability to hold onto players. My want is to take the team forward and keep all the players together, and try to achieve more special things next season.”
The Cherries boss also expressed joy in recently becoming a father, saying it had given him ‘a spring in the step’.
He said: “I think it is an incredible thing when you become a father for the first time or the third time. My sleep has been slightly disrupted if I am honest but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The Cherries face Leicester at 3pm tomorrow, in a game that will see both teams battling out for a place in the top half of the table.