AFC Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker heaped praise on Adam Smith and said the marauding full-back would have a “pivotal role to play for us” this season.
Smith returned from a five-week absence to play a key part in back-to-back Championship wins over Barnsley and QPR as the Cherries climbed to third in the table.
The defender started the Carabao Cup victory over MK Dons and the league opener against West Brom before he was struck down by illness at the start of last month.
Despite the layoff, he showed no signs of any rustiness and turned in two typically energetic 90-minute displays in the space of just four days.
Asked how important Smith was to the way he wanted his team to play, Parker replied: “Very important.
“He’s got a lot of attributes. In terms of the way we want to play – in a footballing way – and the way we want to go about things, he’s a large part of what we need to do.
“He’s an attacking full-back, the timing of his runs are superb, he’s very good athletically and very aggressive out of possession.
“He also brings a more mature head and more experience which can only help the younger players and the younger squad.
“I was with him at Spurs for a bit so was familiar with him and really liked him there. He’s got a pivotal role to play for us this and I’ve been really impressed with him.”
Parker was speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Cherries’ visit to Cardiff City on Saturday where they will put their unbeaten start on the line.
Described by Chris Hughton as the biggest team he had ever seen in the Championship, the Bluebirds boast a towering central defensive triumvirate of Sean Morrison, Aden Flint and Curtis Nelson who all stand at least six-feet tall.
Parker said: “They are a very big side and use that as a massive factor in terms of what they try to do.
“As always, we’ll come up with the best way to deal with that. We’ll address that in the next 24 hours to try to nullify their threat as much as we can.
“But when we play any team, the main thought for us is how we impose ourselves and how we can try to dominate the game. They are always going to be the overriding factors for us.
“It’ll be a tough game. Mick McCarthy has done a good job and they’ve picked up some good points. They’ve got some good players, they are an organised team, they know what they’re doing and know what they’re about.
“It’ll be a big challenge for us away from home but it’s a challenge we’re relishing and one we are looking forward to trying to get a positive result from.”
Parker confirmed Leeds loan man Leif Davis had returned to full training after missing the Barnsley and QPR games due to a hamstring injury.