BOSS Eddie Howe welcomed back long-term injury victim Mohamed Coulibaly before praising him for his dedication during a painstaking recovery.
Coulibaly’s return as an 83rd-minute substitute went under the radar somewhat as Cherries celebrated a crushing 5-0 win over Doncaster on Saturday.
But it was a significant moment when the number 21 light flashed on the fourth official’s board as Coulibaly entered the fray as a replacement for Lewis Grabban.
It was his first taste of action for the first team for 22 weeks, with the 25-year-old having been sidelined by Achilles and calf problems.
Coulibaly, a summer signing from Grasshoppers, started Cherries’ Championship opener against Charlton but had last featured when he came off the bench during the 3-1 defeat by Blackburn at the end of September.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “We were pleased to give him some minutes because he has worked really hard at his rehabilitation and really hard to come back in good physical shape.
“He was arguably one of our best players during pre-season and we feel he is a talent. It will be good now to give him a chance and, hopefully, he can increase his match fitness as time goes on.”
Meanwhile, Cherries striker Josh O’Hanlon made his debut for the Republic of Ireland under-19s in a 2-1 defeat by Romania in Cork on Tuesday.
The Dubliner, signed from League of Ireland outfit Longford Town in January, could feature when the countries meet again tonight in Blarney.