[dropcap]S[/dropcap]taying afloat after being promoted to a major European top flight is a big ask for every team that makes the jump – but losing your main striker and attacking talisman seven games into the new campaign makes the task all the harder.
That is the situation that Bournemouth now find themselves in, with the nightmare scenario of a serious knee injury to Callum Wilson throwing the club into crisis.
After winning the Championship last year in a sensational campaign, Eddie Howe’s men have defied the odds to start their inaugural stint in the Premier League with purpose.
Seven points from seven games, including victories over Sunderland and West Ham, suggest that the new boys are more than good enough to compete at this level, regardless of the likelihood that they will be embroiled in a bottom-six relegation tussle.
However, Wilson was certainly the brightest light for the club so far this term, scoring five goals for the Dean Court outfit and even been touted as a potential inclusion in an upcoming England squad.
The former Coventry hotshot was obviously taking to life in the top flight with aplomb, but rupturing a cruciate ligament away to Stoke at the weekend was not part of his or Bournemouth’s fairytale plan.
Howe and his side will need to rally despite now being without Wilson for at least six months, but their hopes of staying in the Premier League will now fall on the shoulders of others.
In the 23-year-old’s absence, it looks like veteran Glenn Murray will be assigned the role of leading the line, which will be a major challenge for the former Crystal Palace man.
The less-mobile centre forward may well change the playing style of the Cherries to some degree, but the club’s fans will hope that Murray will take his opportunity with both hands.
Something of a journeyman in the lower leagues, the now 32-year-old only really captured widespread attention a couple of seasons ago by firing Palace into the top flight.
In 2012-13, Murray finished as the top scorer in the Championship with a whopping 30 goals and was widely expected to play a considerable role in the top flight for the Selhurst Park outfit.
However, the burly centre forward was sidelined for the start of Palace’s campaign back in the big time and before this season had only started 12 Premier League games in 24 months for the Eagles.
A summer move to Bournemouth made sense for the veteran given that the London club’s attack was changing to be focussed around width and pace under Alan Pardew, and it now appears that Murray will get his chance to consistently play in the top flight finally.
He showed last term that given an opportunity he knows where the back of the net is, scoring seven Premier League goals despite receiving limited time on the pitch.
Not dissimilar to someone like Rickie Lambert, who also played all of his career in the Football League only to excel at the top level when finally given the chance, Murray will have a point to prove.
A handful for opposition centre-halves, the 32-year-old brings a physical presence, aerial threat and good movement inside the box.
Although he lacks the dynamism of the youthful Wilson, it could well be that Murray’s presence makes Bournemouth a more prickly opponent in some ways.
The Dean Court faithful and Howe in particular will be rueing their bad luck after what happened at the Britannia Stadium, but Murray will be rubbing his hands together as a consistent run of games in the Premier League await him.
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