Eddie Howe has commended Jack Wilshere’s influence on his Bournemouth squad and believes the midfielder has made a brave “step back in time” to join the club.
The on-loan Arsenal player shone alongside Harry Arter and Andrew Surman, playing for 76 minutes on his first home start in Bournemouth’s win against Everton .
“It’s done with a very complicated tool called my eyes,” Howe said, with a wry smile, after being asked whether he consulted statistics or data regarding Wilshere’s physical state before making the decision to withdraw him.
After admitting to managing his workload shortly after the 24-year-old’s arrival, Howe said Wilshere’s fitness continues to be judged week by week and that his training time has since increased. Howe was full of praise for the midfield trio of Arter, Surman and Wilshere, who dominated their Everton counterparts, with the winger Junior Stanislas’s first goal of the season condemning Ronald Koeman’s side to their first defeat in the league.
The Bournemouth manager believes Wilshere, one of 11 changes made after their 3-2 defeat to Preston North End in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, can learn from others within his squad as well as vice versa.
“I believe our environment can be good for him because the players work incredibly hard, they push themselves to improve and I think that’s a healthy environment for any footballer – and that’s why I think he decided to come here, ultimately,” Howe said. “He’s picked a very brave decision, for me. He’s gone to a smaller club, he’s gone somewhere where there’s not everything here, there’s not everything done for him. It’s slightly old-fashioned in the way that it’s like a step back in time for him compared with other Premier League clubs and I think he deserves a huge amount of credit for that.
“We don’t have the facilities that other clubs would have. That’s a fact, it’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation and the fact that he’s willing to come here for footballing reasons rather than anything else I think speaks volumes for his decision.”
Wilshere had a first-half effort deflected on to the bar by Everton’s Seamus Coleman and, operating behind the lone striker Callum Wilson, enjoyed his best performance since arriving on a season-long loan.
Howe is confident if Wilshere continues to play in a similar vein then it is just a matter of time before he will complete his first match for more than two years. Wilshere last turned out for a full 90 minutes on 23 September 2014 for Arsenal against Southampton in the Capital One Cup.
“The way he played today he won’t be far away,” Howe said after his side’s second consecutive home win in the Premier League on Saturday. “It’s not a big issue for Jack and it’s not a big issue for me because, obviously, if he plays like he did today he’s going to have massive impact on our season.
“He’ll play 90 minutes the day that he deserves 90 minutes or he can play 90 minutes.
“At the moment I just want to manage his workload so that he stays fit. I think that’s really, really important for him and I think he recognises that and the most important thing isn’t Jack, it’s the team – and I have to make the decision that’s best for the team at all times.”