Cherries: Pearce relishing battle with Bradley
FIERCE competitor Jason Pearce says he is relishing the prospect of a Boxing Day duel with in-form striker Bradley Wright-Phillips. The combative central defender is likely to be tasked with trying to shackle League One's leading goalscorer when Cherries host Plymouth Argyle on Sunday (3pm). Wright-Phillips, who made 32 top-flight appearances for Manchester City, has netted 12 goals in 14 league games for the Pilgrims this season. Cherries captain Pearce told the Daily Echo: Plymouth have got some really good players, the main one being Bradley Wright-Phillips. He is a proven goalscorer and is in a rich vein of form. He has also scored goals in the Premier League which shows what a good player he is. Since we won promotion, I have noticed how big the step up has been, especially when it comes to the quality of the strikers. A lot of them could probably play in the Championship and he is one of them. But I want to play against people like that and pit my wits against the best to show I'm a good player as well. It will be a good test for me and one I am looking forward to. Pearce added: We've had a couple of pre-season friendlies against Spurs since I've been here and I was up against Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko. When I first came up against Defoe and Crouch, they ran rings around me. But when we played them a second time, I felt I did a lot better. I have learned from those experiences and need to make sure I keep learning. If you want to test yourself at the highest level, you need to be able to deal with quality players. Ever-present Pearce has continued to grow in stature at the heart of the Cherries defence this season despite being paired with a number of different partners. It has been hard at times, admitted the 23-year-old. It is good to have set partnerships in certain key areas and we've had to change things a few times due to injury. You are also up against much better players and that adds to the challenge. In League Two, if a striker gets quite a few chances, he might only take one. In this league, they take more so you have got to defend well, both individually and as a team, to restrict them. A lot of the goals we have conceded this season have been down to individual errors rather than collective bad defending and we need to cut them out. Although Ryan Garry remains sidelined due to injury, boss Eddie Howe's defensive resources have improved following the return to training of Shaun Cooper.
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