Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says he will not rush Jack Wilshere into the starting line-up despite the daunting prospect of facing Manchester City on Saturday.
The on-loan Arsenal midfielder came on as a substitute last weekend to help his side to a 1-0 victory over West Brom at the Vitality Stadium, having made two brief appearances against Leicester City and Watford for the Gunners.
A leg fracture kept the 24-year-old sidelined for almost all of last season, and he has not managed a full 90 minutes in the Premier League since September 2014 due to a succession of injury problems.
Howe has been delighted with Wilshere’s start to life on the south coast but remains wary of placing too many demands on him too quickly, even with Pep Guardiola’s table-topping City next in line for his side.
“With the outstanding quality he has, there’s no doubt about that, we’d like to see him in the team as quickly as possible,” he said.
“It’s a delicate balance between rushing him into the team and the long term. We have to think of that. We want him to play a lot of games for us so we’ll put him in when we think it’s right.
“I’ve been really pleased. I thought he had a big impact when he came on at a time in the game when the game was in the balance, really.
“We had lost the full control we had had in the first half and I thought he wrestled that back for us. It was a big contributing factor to us winning the game.”
City beat Bournemouth 5-1 and 4-0 last season and have enjoyed superb form this term under Guardiola, winning all of their opening seven competitive fixtures and scoring 21 goals in the process.
“I think they’re an outstanding team,” Howe said. “Individually, I think they’ve got outstanding players and they’ve got a manager who, in my opinion, is right at the very top
I think the biggest compliment I can give him is the impact he’s had on that team so early – you can see when they play he’s stamped his authority on that team.
“They’ve started the season incredibly well. When I watch them play, I enjoy it – and it’s rare for me to say that when I watch an opponent play. They’ve been very impressive.”