Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has labelled Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe as “the best finisher I’ve ever seen”.
The Bournemouth manager played alongside the Sunderland man for the Cherries during the 2000-01 season, while Defoe was on loan from West Ham.
Defoe scored 19 times in what was his only season at the then-Division Two club and thereafter established himself in the Premier League and at international level with England.
Howe, an impressive central defender at his peak, played alongside and against Defoe in training, and as his team prepare to host Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday he has
warned them of the striker’s potential threat.
“He is the best finisher of a ball I’ve ever seen,” Howe said. “We will have to keep him quiet, that will make the difference on Saturday.
“We are under no illusions that these games are huge for us. They could set a platform for the rest our season. We know that.
“I don’t think we are looking at Sunderland. At this stage the league table is irrelevant. We just want to win.
“They were unlucky to lose to Tottenham last week. They have a number of good players and a strong manager. They will pose a big threat on Saturday.”
Sunderland captain John O’Shea spent three months on loan at Bournemouth the season before Defoe and played alongside Howe in defence.
“I could immediately see how good John was,” Howe said. “Playing alongside him was a great experience and something that helped me learn as well.
“I think very highly of them both, not only as players but as people. But I won’t have spoken to either of them before the game. That’s not my style.
“(Bournemouth) have come back well (in training following the defeat at Norwich last weekend). The players always do.
“Confidence can be a fragile thing and our players have very good mental strength and character. They’ll come out fighting on Saturday. The very least that I and the fans ask for is 100 per cent.”