AFC Bournemouth left back Charlie Daniels is fighting to return to full fitness following a knee injury.
He suffered the problem against Everton towards the end of August and is yet to return to full training.
It has left the side without one of the first teams most recent mainstays in the side, having played 242 times since joining from Leyton Orient in November 2011, playing a key role in both the promotions from League One in 2013 and the Championship in 2015.
During the Championship years he most notably saw off veteran full-back Ian Harte for the left-back role, whilst during the Premier League years, he has seen off competition from Tyrone Mings and Brad Smith.
His tally of 109 Premier League appearances for AFC Bournemouth is second only to Steve Cook.
But now Daniels potentially faces his hardest competition, with the now 32-year-old fighting 25-year-old Spaniard Diego Rico for his position.
Rico joined the Cherries in the summer from Spanish La Liga side Leganes for a fee reported to be £10.7million.
Rico is younger, taller and arguably has a better delivery and boasts a decent set-piece ability.
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told the Daily Echo…
“…(Daniels) is in the phase between the physios and the sports science team, where he is building his tolerance up to the pain levels he has been feeling.
“He is not 100 per cent back with the sports science team yet. He is not totally injury-free and is still feeling something but it is improving every day…”
“It’s frustrating for him to get injured. He is a player who has done so well for us, He has been consistent in his fitness, performance, training and attitude. His training quality has been really high over a long period of time.
“When you lose someone of that level it’s tough for the squad but that’s the game and Diego has come in and done very well.”
Interesting do you think Charlie Daniels will return when fit? I don’t think he will, he was a weak link all last season in my opinion in the same way that Simon Francis was, and Eddie Howe has acted on it.
I don’t think we paid £10million to stick Diego Rico on the bench for a year while he learns the “Bournemouth way”. – Join the conversation, click here.