LEVEL-headed Lewis Grabban fired in-form Cherries to within sight of the League One promotion mix but then insisted: “We can’t get excited.”
The forward completed an 18-minute hat-trick to inspire Cherries to a convincing 4-1 victory over Oldham Athletic at Goldsands Stadium yesterday.
After a goalless opening period, Grabban struck three times early in the second half to put the hosts in the driving seat. Charlie Daniels’s powerful header extended the lead before Matt Smith got a late consolation for the Latics.
The victory – Cherries’ seventh in eight unbeaten games since Howe’s appointment – helped the transformed Dorset outfit move to within four points of the play-off zone.
But while supporters and pundits continue to talk promotion, Grabban is refusing to get carried away by Cherries’ impressive run.
Clutching the match ball as he spoke to the media, Grabban said: “We can’t get excited. We are still playing catch-up until we get up to that right side of the table.
“We have just got to keep working hard on the training field and on matchdays.
“We are just focused on that at the moment and then we will talk about promotion later.”
Ex-Oldham loan man Grabban, who was delighted to register his first hat-trick in the competitive pro game, has six goals in 18 Cherries appearances since joining from Rotherham United during the summer.
The former Crystal Palace and Millwall frontman is hoping to make the most of having a run in the team after earning his place in Howe’s first-choice line-up.
He said: “It is always nice to be selected in the starting XI week in, week out.
“It was nice to repay the manager with some goals for the faith he has put in me.
“Last season was probably my first full season anywhere and this season has followed suit and I am getting a chance to play every week. Hopefully, I can carry on doing that for the rest of my career.”
Grabban’s third goal came from a rebound after midfield playmaker Harry Arter had seen his penalty saved by Dean Bouzanis.
Grabban had initially showed his interest in taking the spot kick to try to complete his hat-trick but said he had not realised Arter was Cherries’ designated penalty taker.
However, the 24-year-old revealed that role could be up for debate in training.
Grabban added: “Every striker wants to take penalties, Harry takes penalties as well and I think Charlie Daniels wants to take penalties.
“I think we will see during the week who is the penalty taker and then that will be done for the rest of the season.”