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First team

Junior wants to be in the thick of it

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Once the dust had settled on the most memorable season in AFC Bournemouth’s history, Junior Stanislas was left to reflect.

Signed by Eddie Howe in the summer of 2014, Stanislas arrived with high hopes of winning back-to-back promotions to the Premier League.

In his final year at Burnley, he helped the Clarets finish second in the Championship before rejecting the offer of a new contract in favour of reuniting with Howe, the man who had taken him to Turf Moor.

But with wing men Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh both in irrepressible form for the Cherries, Stanislas found opportunities hard to come by in his first season.

Restricted to six starts and seven substitute appearances, Stanislas played something of a bit part, even if his solitary league goal in a 1-0 win against Brentford proved crucial in the final reckoning.

In the next five seasons in the Premier League, Stanislas, who was signed on a free transfer, made 99 appearances, scored 20 goals and provided 12 assists.

He made his fifth start of this season in the 3-1 win at Birmingham, a victory which left the Cherries five points better off than at the same stage in 2014/15.

Stanislas told afcb.co.uk: “I didn’t play much in that season and, to be honest, it wasn’t a fond memory for me.

“I know we went on a good run and didn’t look back. The team played freely, scored a lot of goals and played well so, hopefully, we can do the same again this season.

“God willing, I can stay injury free and, hopefully, I’ll get more minutes and help the team push on.”

Asked whether his lack of game time six years ago made him more determined this time round, Stanislas replied: “I did my best six years ago and the team were on a roll so there weren’t many changes.

“I’ll do my best this time around as well. I never go on the pitch not trying to do well. I always try to give my best and then whatever happens, happens.

“Hopefully, I’ll play more of a part this season, score more goals, get more assists and help the team achieve what we all want to achieve.”

Stanislas, who scored on his full Premier League debut for West Ham in 2009, bagged seven goals as the Cherries came ninth in 2016/17, the club’s highest finish in the top flight.

Asked for his thoughts on their start this season, he said: “It’s been a reasonable start. We were unbeaten until we went to Sheffield Wednesday but we probably drew one or two too many games.

“It was good to win at Birmingham heading into the international break because we got some momentum back. Now we want to build again and, hopefully, go on another good run.

“We go into every game looking to win. Getting relegated from the Premier League, people expect you to come into the Championship and dominate it but it’s not like that.

“The opposition try to stop you doing that. It’s never easy and a lot of teams sit behind the ball so we have to be good enough to break them down, like we showed against Birmingham.

“I don’t really look at the league table too much, especially now. Birmingham was our 11th game and there is a long way to go.

“If we can play to the level we did against Birmingham, especially in the first half, it will stand us in good stead.”

Asked about his own form, Stanislas said: “I was pretty pleased with my performance against Birmingham, especially in the first half.

“I wasn’t at my best against Derby and Bristol City but enjoyed Cardiff. Birmingham was my fifth start and I’m building and going in the right direction.”

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