By Steve Wright (@SundayLoveSongs)
Nine of AFC Bournemouth’s roster were sent out on international duty over the last week, with the inform Joshua King proving the pick of the bunch after hitting the back of the net against San Marino.
The good news for Cherries fans is there are no fresh injury concerns, so a relieved Eddie Howe can enjoy the same options at his disposal that he had before the break. So, how did the Cherries get on?
Starting from the back, Artur Boruc – who has impressed for Cherries so far this season – did not feature in either of Poland’s home qualifiers, both of which they won but failed to keep a clean sheet. At an international level he appears to be falling behind in the pecking order as Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Sczcesny are both favoured over the Premier League shot stopper. Similarly, Adam Federici did not feature in either of Australia’s draws. However, fellow Australian and recently signed Brad Smith did enjoy 90 minutes of action in both games without directly being involved in any goals scored. Having said that, Smith didn’t cover himself in glory for Saudi Arabia’s first goal against Australia last Thursday. Hopefully his defensive positioning is worked on before he finds himself in the Bournemouth starting lineup.
Elsewhere in the back line, young Mark Travers – one of Bournemouth’s youth goalkeepers – took part in a convincing 5-0 victory for his Republic of Ireland U19 side over Gibraltar U19. It’s worth noting that Travers was replaced when Republic of Ireland U19 suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Germany U19 three days later. Nathan Ake also appeared as a second half substitute in Netherland U21’s 4-1 victory over Cyprus.
Moving further up the pitch, Republic of Ireland’s Harry Arter and Marc Wilson were both unable to feature due to injury concerns, whilst England U20’s Lewis Cook played segments of their first two games in the Four Nations tournament; one that England went on to win with a 2-0 victory over USA that Cook did not participate in.
Benik Afobe didn’t feature in Congo DR’s single qualifier. Elsewhere in Africa, Max Gradel enjoyed helping Ivory Coast to a 3-1 win over Mali, but was not directly involved in any of his sides goals. By far the standout performer from the Cherries who travelled to represent their nations was Joshua King, who continued his fine form in Norway. His disciplinary was questioned when he picked up a yellow card and was subsequently substituted off in a 3-0 defeat to Germany last Tuesday, but following on from another mediocre display against Azerbaijan on Saturday, King finally found the back of the net as his team had been relying on him to do so with an 83-minute strike against San Marino (who managed to score more goals than England last night, for what it’s worth). The forward found himself on the left flank and used his pace and dribbling ability to cut inside and place his shot past the keeper (who arguably could’ve done better to save it from going in) into the far corner.
The Bournemouth contingent will now re-join the rest of the squad in Bournemouth to resume training as planned, with the hope that they can continue their assault on the upper reaches of the bottom half of the Premier League table at home to Hull City on Saturday.