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Cherries: Vets' experience key at higher level
Published : 17 May 2010 07:00:00
BOSS Eddie Howe believes the experience of League One veterans Steve Fletcher and Shaun Cooper would be vital to Cherries next season. Targetman Fletcher and gifted playmaker Cooper are both pondering new contracts after being offered fresh terms by Howe a week ago. Fletcher, who will be 38 in July, was a mainstay of Cherries' momentous promotion and missed only one league game against Crewe in August. Cooper, however, endured a far less fruitful campaign and was restricted to just six appearances after recovering from hip surgery. But with the pair having plied the lion's share of their respective careers in the league above, Howe knows they would both be valuable members of his squad. And with Danny Hollands, another player with a wealth of League One experience, having already committed his short-term future to the club, Howe hopes Fletcher and Cooper will follow suit. Howe said: Shaun got himself fit and got back into the team at the tail-end of the season. It was a long and slow process for him to get back after his operation. But he worked hard and diligently at his rehabilitation and his efforts paid off. He didn't look like he had been away when he played against Accrington in his comeback game. He was excellent towards the end of the season and performed consistently well. He has experience of playing in League One and he performed to a good standard in that level. Hopefully, his experience and attitude will be really important for us next season. Fletcher returned to Dean Court from Conference outfit Crawley in January 2009 and has been pivotal to Cherries' success under Howe. Howe added: People try to write him off every season and he just keeps proving them wrong. It wouldn't surprise me if he did the same again next season. He surprised me with the number of games he played last season, both starting and finishing. He only missed one league game and played a lot of 90 minutes. For someone of his age to do that, and to the level he did, was remarkable. His age is irrelevant because of the way he looks after himself. He is probably more mobile now than he was three or four years ago. It is down to the work he does in the gym and his professionalism off the pitch. As you get older, it takes a huge effort to remain in excellent physical condition and Fletch has done that. He is a role model to the younger players about how to look after yourself. To still have that desire at 37 speaks volumes for him and long may it continue.