Eddie Howe insists Josh King is fully focused at Bournemouth after the collapse of his mooted deadline-day move to Manchester United. United failed to agree terms with the Cherries on a deal for Norway striker King, before recruiting ex-Watford hitman Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
Oslo-born King came through United’s academy before joining Bournemouth in 2015 following two years at Blackburn. He hit 12 Premier League goals last term and is closing in on full fitness after a thigh problem, and Cherries boss Howe is confident in the 28-year-old’s mindset after those links to United.
“That was a difficult couple of days for him, but a huge compliment and a huge moment for him, to have Manchester United come in and express an interest in him,” said Howe. “But he’s very focused on our current position and this club.
“He knows we’re in a relegation fight; it’s no time for him to focus on himself, he knows that and he’s very much a team player. So he’s looking forward to being fit and contributing to our battle.”
Consecutive victories over Brighton and Aston Villa have eased Bournemouth’s relegation battle, but Howe continues to demand his players push to climb the table.
The Cherries will take on Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday, with King and Jack Stacey both possibly fit after thigh injuries. And Howe has no qualms over King’s understanding of his situation at the south coast club.
“I think all players understand how football works and the transfer windows, there’s such a lot for players to take in these days especially with the media so interested in every detail,” said Howe. “But the players are here, the window is shut and they are very focused on the team, on our situation.
“There can be no thought of individual situations when you’re in the position that we’re in, we need everyone pulling in the same direction for the benefit of the team. And if we can do that, then we can reassess in the summer.
“Josh has trained this week and is getting close to a return. Jack Stacey is close too, so we’ll have to make decisions on whether we involved them or not, but we are very pleased with their progress.”
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