Howe hails influence of defender Rico


Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe says he has been very impressed with the contribution of defender Diego Rico this season.

The Spaniard joined Bournemouth last season from Leganes for an undisclosed fee but did not make a huge impact on the first term in his maiden campaign in England.

He struggled in his initial performances and found chances hard to come by after losing his spot to Charlie Daniels.

His prospects looked even bleaker at the beginning of the season after Howe sanctioned the signing of Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City for a fee in the region of Β£13million.

However, he was injured early on, before Daniels suffered a season-ending blow knee injury against Manchester City in their 3-1 loss in August.

Since then, Howe has altered his formation to go to a more conventional 4-4-2 and Rico has slotted in nicely at left-back with Josh King offering support further forward.

The 26-year-old has also been entrusted with set-piece deliveries and has picked up an assist in their wins against Southampton and Everton – both by 3-1 scorelines.

Now, ahead of the international break, Howe has waxed lyrical about his performances so far this season.

β€œHe’s had a decisive say in a lot of games. If you look at the assists he has made for the team, his corners and free-kicks have been really valuable to us,” he said. β€œYou look at the Southampton game, the Everton game and the West Ham game. He has played a key role in goals for us which have changed the game at that moment.”

Rico only played 12 Premier League for the Cherries last season, five of those being starts.

However, he is now a mainstay of the side who are currently 10th in the Premier League and won the club’s player of the month award for September.

It has been a good start to the season for the Cherries who currently have 11 points from eight games, and Rico looks unlikely to lose his place any time soon, despite the return to full fitness of Kelly.