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Cherries: Pugh warns squad of ruthless Howe
Fans’ favourite Pugh played a key role as Cherries marked Howe’s return to the club by registering their first home win of the season on Saturday.
The 25-year-old was the only survivor in the starting line-up from Howe’s previous reign as Cherries climbed out of the League One drop zone thanks to a 2-0 win over Leyton Orient.
Pugh, signed by Howe from Hereford in 2010, netted Cherries’ second goal and also had a hand in the first as the new boss and his assistant Jason Tindall looked on from the stands.
One of Howe’s first tasks will be to carry out a thorough assessment of the club’s infrastructure, which will include weighing up the size of the current squad.
And should he decide to reduce numbers – which Howe has already suggested he will – Pugh knows there will be no room for either sentiment or favouritism.
Pugh told the Daily Echo: “He expects and demands the best. If you aren’t performing, he will tell you. He makes training enjoyable and everybody works hard. He doesn’t tolerate below-par performances. We had a small squad when he was here before and you always needed to perform well to keep your place.
“Football is a ruthless game. Although it is a team game and you have got to perform for one another while you are on the pitch, you have also got to look after yourself and strive to be the best. When you are training and playing, you need to prove you are worth a place in the starting line-up.”
Pugh added: “It was good to know they would be coming in. I worked under them before and they are winners and brought a lot of success to the club. Hopefully, it will be a case of onwards and upwards for us now they are back. The club has done really well to get them back.”
Despite the return of Howe, Pugh said he was still in “no rush” to commit himself to a fresh contract with Cherries after rejecting the club’s offer of a new deal in the summer.
Pugh, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has always made no secret of his desire to showcase his talents in the Championship.
He added: “I want to play in the Championship and, if the club is going to bring success, you never know what might happen. But I just want to concentrate on my football and am in no rush to do anything at the moment.”