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First team

Joshua is Cherries' top-flight stat King

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

If Joshua King thinks he is “just reaching my prime”, AFC Bournemouth supporters should have plenty to look forward to.

Striker King has been one of the Cherries’ most consistent and successful performers during the club’s Premier League journey.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of King’s arrival at Vitality Stadium, the Norwegian becoming Eddie Howe’s third signing ahead of the club’s debut season in the top flight.

Now 27, King’s 42 goals make him the Cherries’ leading all-time marksman in the Premier League, while his tally of 135 appearances is second only to Steve Cook’s total of 139.

His 16 goals in 2016/17 earned him the Golden Boot and helped fire the club to its highest finishing position, an award King shared last season with Callum Wilson, the pair both notching eight.

Perfectionist King (pictured above on the day he signed) described this season as “okay” from a personal point of view and insisted there was more to come from him.

He told afcb.co.uk: “I think I’ve developed a lot as a player since I came here. I always want to hit double figures and scored 12 goals this season so that was a positive. But I always want more and anything less than 15 and I am not going to be happy.

“All in all, I stayed fit for most of the season and only had one injury, which was good for my body. But I don’t think I had my best season and think I underperformed.

“I turned 27 in January and am just starting to reach my prime so there’s a lot more to come. I set my standards high, both for myself and for my teammates.”

King, who signed for Manchester United on his 16th birthday and made two appearances for the Red Devils, including one in the Champions League, joined the Cherries from Blackburn Rovers.

His exploits this season helped Howe’s team secure 14th place, with King adding three assists and having 72 shots, the highest number in the squad. His tally of 89 aerial battles won was bettered only by Steve Cook.

King added: “For the team, I would say the season was very up and down. We started well and then went on a run when we only won twice in 12 league games. We managed to get back on track and the last six or seven games were like ping-pong.

“All in all, I was disappointed because I know how good this squad is. We were unlucky with injuries to important starting players. I don’t like making excuses but it was definitely a factor.

“Other teams have deeper squads where we have a smaller, tighter group which is more of a family so, when someone gets injured, it hurts us more.

“We got points from games where people probably didn’t expect us to like when we won 4-0 against Chelsea. But we also lost at home to Fulham.

“You are always going to have a dip but I felt ours lasted too long. We played so well at the start of the season and should have kept it going.

“Last season, we managed to come from behind to win on a number of occasions but that didn’t happen too often this season (only once at West Ham) so we need to get that mentality back.

“This team is always going to score goals because of the way we attack. As a unit, we dropped a little on our defending and that comes from the strikers, midfielders and defenders.

“That’s one thing we need to focus on more. If we manage to keep a clean sheet, we always look like we are going to score.”

King was joined by three-year-old son Noah during the Cherries’ lap of appreciation following their dramatic last-gasp victory over Tottenham earlier this month.

Discussing fatherhood, King said: “I always used to play for myself but now I play for someone else as well which makes it a bit more meaningful.

“I’ve always played football because I enjoy and love it but now it’s more because I want him to have a good life and I try to do the best for him. You want to do the best for your kids and your family and to leave them a legacy to be proud of.

“I think he’s more of a dad fan than a football fan but he does like football and wants to play.

"He always says he wants to play but I’m not going to pressurize him into becoming a footballer. He can do whatever makes him happy. Right now, he’s into Marvel, Spiderman and Iron Man so we’ll see what happens as time goes on!”

King will be hoping to feature in Norway’s European Championship qualifiers against Romania in Oslo on June 7th and against Faroe Islands in Torshavn three days later.

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