CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe says Jason Pearce should be afforded a hero’s welcome on his return to Dean Court tomorrow.

Pearce, twice voted supporters’ player of the year during his time with Cherries, is set to face his former club when he lines up for Leeds.

The combative defender played a starring role during the Great Escape campaign of 2008-09 before skippering Cherries to promotion from League Two the following season.

Pearce also led Cherries during their League One play-off near miss in 2011 and spent 12 months with Portsmouth before joining Leeds in May 2012.

Howe, who appointed Pearce as captain, told the Daily Echo: “In my opinion, all the players who served us during that era should be regarded as heroes. What the likes of Jason and his team-mates did for this club should be remembered for a long time.

“The club was on its knees, the players weren’t getting paid and we were in a relegation battle. Had we not achieved our objective, we would have been in the Conference and who knows what would have happened then.

“Jason was the leader of the team and had to show the others what attitude to take to the problems we faced. I found him an inspiration. Every day in training, he was outstanding and he was a winner. I can’t speak highly enough of him and he should always be remembered as a very good professional for this club.”