AS Eddie Howe looks to add to his squad this week, his first two signings for the club are making a real impression at Turf Moor.
Charlie Austin and Marvin Bartley both arrived in January, soon after Howe took the reins, and while they took time to settle into life in the Championship, the pair are showing why the boss earmarked them as big prospects.
Although Howe was not expecting any movement on the loan front over the next day or so, he remains hopeful of adding to his squad ahead of Saturday’s home game with Reading, with his squad down to 17 due to injuries to Martin Paterson (thigh), Danny Ings (knee), Michael Duff (knee), Keith Treacy (hamstring) and Brian Jensen (groin).
He is keeping his target close to his chest, but said: “It will probably be a new one, and more of a squad improvement than an improvement to the team.”
He then spoke in glowing terms of the impact of Austin and Bartley, who have grown in stature this term.
Both had knockbacks from Saturday’s opponents Reading, being released before making their way back into the professional game via non-league.
And Howe said: “It’s always difficult bringing young players who have come from a lower level to an experienced group, which is what we had when they first came in.
“We always believed in both players and we knew there would be a period of adjustment.
“I didn’t expect them to come in and start straight away to be honest.
“It would take them some time to find their feet – that would be the same for any young player who you recruit from League One or League Two.
“But we knew, with a good pre-season behind them that would make a difference.
“Those players have now shown what they’re capable of, and the good thing is they’ll be here for many more years and a big part of the future.
“Both lads have done themselves justice, and shown what ability they do have.”
Howe feels they have shown they have that mental strength required, after refusing to become downhearted after their experience with the Royals.
He said: “They’re great lads and great characters.
“That’s the reason I brought them here, because they’ve got the right mentality.
“There’s more to come from them definitely. They’re still very good ages.
“When you look at the rise that they’ve had, there’s still a lot more scope and improvement in both players.
“But It speaks volumes for the personalities of the lads, as it would have been easy to give up and to quit and think, ‘I’ll do something else’.
“Marvin’s had a dramatic rise in his career. I’ve known him a long time and I’ve seen improvement in him, and how hard he’s worked to get there.
“You don’t get anywhere in life without that hard work and desire.
“He’s shown that, and I’m really pleased for him.
“Charlie’s the same. He had a big knockback at a young age and he did it the hard way, playing non-league, where he scored a load of goals week in, week out.
“He was scoring fours and fives for Poole Town, and he’s just continued to do it.
“I’m really pleased he’s now doing it at this level.”
Meanwhile, Howe has allowed trialist Tom Naylor to return to his club Mansfield Town.
The defender, who has also had trials at Fulham and Derby, was with the club last week, and played in the Development Squad’s game with the Nike Academy.
But Howe is expected to continue to keep tabs on the 20-year-old’s progress, rather than make a move based on what he has seen.