Howe: Too early for Afobe to rule out England

Date published: Friday 19th February 2016 2:04

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has urged Benik Afobe not to turn his back on a possible international career with England.

London-born Afobe has admitted he would consider representing DR Congo despite playing for England youth teams for the last 11 years.

The 23-year-old striker qualifies for DR Congo through his parents but Howe says he will be advising the former Wolves man not to rush into any decisions about his international future.

Howe told a press conference: “I wouldn’t want him to make a decision now where he could potentially regret that in a few years’ time.

“It is early for him at Premier League level and a lot is going to change after the next tournament.

“If I was him, and I will be speaking to him, I would say give England your very best and (have the) opportunity to play for this country.

“I don’t know his feelings or thoughts on it, I read it just like you did, but I haven’t spoken to him about it.

“I will be (speaking to him) to lend my advice and thoughts.

“He is still very young which I think is the key thing here. I think if he was 27, 28-years-old I could understand why he would look elsewhere but he is still very young and he has a lot of good years ahead of him.”

Howe was speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Everton.

The Bournemouth boss says his side’s “main priority” is Premier League survival and has hinted he will be making changes for the cup clash – but insists that does not mean they are not focused on beating the Toffees.

Howe said: “We would love to progress, I think I have said that before every round so that is still the same.

“Only once before have we been into the quarter-finals so that would be a really big moment for the football club if we could achieve it. So I want to pick a team that can do that but also pick a team that shows we have a good squad.

“Winning can breed confidence, even in a different competition it can ignite your season so we are looking to be professional in every game. We are looking to progress.

“We do not underestimate the challenge we have, I think Everton have a very talented squad and a very talented manager so it is going to be a really good game.”

While there have been no official proposals, it has been reported that the FA and Premier League members have been in discussions to change the format of the FA Cup to reduce fixture congestion.

Howe believes something needs to be done to “reignite” the competition, but is well aware what matches against top sides can mean to lower-league clubs financially.

He said: “I think they need to look at everything and then make the right decision.

“I think the landscape has changed, (the FA Cup is) not the same as in what I would call the glory days of the FA Cup – 1970s, 80s.

“I think you do need to be adaptable so whether the competition needs the drastic changes that are being talked about, I don’t know but I do think it needs something to try and reignite the competition.

“They need to bring back the mystique of the competition and try and elevate it.

“There is no doubt for the smaller clubs (FA Cup is important), and we have been there ourselves.

“We were always craving that big game against a Premier League team away from home, knowing that the revenue would boost the club for years to come so to take that away would be a big blow for them.

“There is a lot to consider, I wouldn’t like to be the ones making the decisions because I don’t think you can win.”

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