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Cherries: Ritchie proving a more than able deputy at left-back
Howe could be set to keep faith with emergency left-back Ritchie as Cherries attempt to fill the sizeable void created by the loss to injury of Charlie Daniels.
Howe reported that Daniels, who is bidding to avoid foot surgery, is being closely monitored as he attempts to step up his comeback.
Loan signings Dan Seaborne and Marcos Painter, as well as recent recruit Ritchie, have all stepped in since Daniels was sidelined in January.
With Seaborne required at centre-half and Painter not selected, Ritchie was again called upon against Coventry on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old, who has a sweet left foot, has predominantly been utilised as a winger throughout his professional career.
But the former Swindon Town star was a stand-out performer against the Sky Blues when tasked with playing as part of Cherries’ back four.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s League One clash at Leyton Orient, manager Howe told the Daily Echo: “I think he put in eight or nine crosses on Tuesday. Not only that, I thought his defending was very good and his link-up with Josh McQuoid was very good.
“I thought it was a really top performance. As everyone knows, it is not his preferred position and it is not the position we see him playing long term.
“But what you have to do is always think of the team and what is best for the team at the moment is for Matt to play there.
“There are different challenges facing him. He has got to be able to defend and Matt, so far, has come through all those tests with flying colours.
“In terms of going forward and using the ball, we don’t have any doubts about that. From that perspective, he suits the position perfectly in what we ask from our full-backs.”
The former Portsmouth trainee was a big-money signing from Swindon in January, having hit 10 goals for Cherries’ League One rivals this season.
Howe has been delighted by his application since being asked to play out of position.
He added: “That would be another factor behind us signing Matt Ritchie. Not only do you get a very good player, you get a player who has got a great attitude.
“He wants to learn and get better and whatever position you put him in, whether it be left midfield, right midfield, left-back or wherever he plays, he will want to do it to the best of his ability.
“There is a lot more to come from him because once we get him higher up the pitch, everyone will be able to see the other qualities he has got as well. In saying that, as a left-back on Tuesday, I thought he was very good.”