MANAGER Eddie Howe has lavished rich praise on Benji Buchel - and also put the goalkeeper on standby to make his Cherries debut.
Buchel starred during Cherries' pre-season campaign when he shouldered the majority of the goalkeeping duties in the continued absence of Lee Camp and Darryl Flahavan.
And with Camp and Flahavan facing a race against time to be fit for Cherries' Championship opener at Huddersfield on Saturday, Howe says Buchel has played his way into contention.
Buchel has had loan spells at Dorchester, Poole and Havant & Waterlooville since joining Cherries two years ago and has also played for Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier.
Camp and Flahavan have both been troubled by thigh injuries and Howe had been pondering drafting in a loan signing until Buchel's exploits made him reconsider.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “We will leave it as long as we can with Lee and Darryl. But the form of Benji has given us confidence that we don't have to panic in this situation. He did very well during pre-season and, on merit, would have to be a contender to play.
“If it is for one or two games, I think you are much better off going with someone who knows you, knows how you work and your style of play rather than bringing in a similar body from say a bigger club.
“Darryl is at a similar stage to Lee in terms of his rehab and they are two very experienced goalkeepers who, if called upon, could both step in and play.”
During pre-season, Flahavan was restricted to 45 minutes in Cherries' opening warm-up match against FC Copenhagen, while Camp did not feature in any friendlies. Buchel, meanwhile, lined up in all seven games including 90-minute appearances against Oxford, Swansea, Portsmouth and Southampton.
Howe added: “The only question mark for us with Benji was the games. We had seen what a really good goalkeeper he was in training and there were no doubts about his shot-stopping ability and everything else.
“It was very much the game-management and the pressure of the big game. They have been big games for him during pre-season and he has come through with flying colours.
“We are not talking about an 18 or 19-year-old lad. We are talking about someone who is experienced in a different way and probably not with the English game. He has done well and you can only judge on what you have seen.
“First and foremost, we are hoping to have Lee fit. From there, we will work backwards and pick the strongest team we can.”