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First team

Stacey keen for Cherries to ruin Dickie's day

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Jack Stacey is hoping an in-form Cherries strike force can give his close pal Rob Dickie a torrid time when he visits Vitality Stadium with QPR on Saturday.

Long-time friends Stacey and Dickie progressed through the academy ranks at Reading and were in the same youth team after joining the club as eight-year-olds.

The defenders, who were born within a month of each other in 1996, were on the bench when Dickie made his Championship debut against Blackburn in May 2016.

Dickie (pictured below) signed for QPR for an undisclosed fee at the start of September having previously been linked with a move to Premier League Newcastle.

He joined the west Londoners after making more than 100 appearances for Oxford United, skippering them in their League One play-off final defeat by Wycombe in July.

The Berkshire-born 24-year-olds are set to lock horns when the Cherries put their unbeaten start in the Championship on the line against ninth-placed Rangers.

Stacey, who netted the first of the Cherries’ eight league goals this season, told afcb.co.uk: “There are quite a few of us from that Reading youth team playing in the Championship now.

“I played with Rob from the age of nine so it will be good to come up against him. We were two of the first to sign at Reading as eight-year-olds.

“We’ve had similar paths. Rob had a couple of good loan spells at Cheltenham and Lincoln and got a move back to the Championship after doing really well in League One with Oxford.

“It will be great to see him. We haven’t had any banter but because of how close we are and how long we’ve known each other, I think we will have a chat after the game.

“You’ve seen from the start of the season how dangerous we have been going forward so whoever the gaffer picks should hopefully give Rob and the QPR defence a hard time.”

New loan signing Rodrigo Riquelme could be in contention for a place in the squad after the club received his international clearance following his move from Atlético Madrid.

“He’s looked very good in training,” said Stacey. “We had a training game at the weekend and he was very sharp. Luckily, he was on my team!

“It’s always going to be a tough ask to come from Spain and he hasn’t played a lot of men’s football. Hopefully, he can contribute to the squad going forward.

“It’s going to be a massive step up for him and we have to manage expectations.

"He’s been training well and hopefully he will contribute positively to our season.”

The visit of Mark Warburton’s team is the first of seven games in 22 days for the Cherries with midweek fixtures in the Championship every week until the next international break.

Discussing the punishing schedule, Stacey said: “I was used to it playing in League One and League Two but now the season is even shorter so it’s even more condensed.

“Recovery is massive and there isn’t a lot you can do in terms of training in preparation for games.

“We have to watch videos and do a lot more analysis work rather than training outside but it’s the same for every team. If we can deal with it in a good way, it will give us an advantage.

“We’ve had a good start and everyone around the club can be really happy with that. But it’s early days and we’ve got so many games coming up which should give us a better picture of where we are.”

On the subject of playing in empty stadiums, Stacey added: “At the start, it was very difficult to get used to. I can’t say it’s something I enjoy and I can’t wait for the day that fans are allowed back in.

“But, at the moment, it’s out of our hands. It’s nice seeing support from fans on social media and hopefully we can interact with them more because we are missing that interaction on matchdays.

“We are all missing playing in front of them but it’s something we have to deal with at the moment.”

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