EDDIE Howe says Emerson Hyndman “deserves this opportunity” after handing the midfielder his first Premier League appearance in almost a year on Saturday.

The USA international, 23, spent the first half of this season on loan at Scottish side Hibernian before being recalled in January.

But he did not return to Cherries' matchday squad until last month’s home defeat against his former club Fulham.

Hyndman was again named among the substitutes for the weekend trip to Southampton and was called into action on 53 minutes when Dan Gosling went down with a calf injury, to make just his second top-flight appearance.

His only other Premier League appearance came at Burnley on the final day of last season.

And boss Howe says the midfielder’s work behind the scenes during the past four months has impressed him.

The Cherries manager told the Daily Echo: “I think Emerson has trained very well.

“I think he deserves this opportunity.

“He’s been consistently performing to a really high level technically in training.

“Emerson is very level-headed. He’s very quiet. He goes about his business in a really good way. He trains well every day.

“I’ve got a lot of time for him as a footballer.

“Obviously he’s had big competition in there this season, as he always has since he’s been here (from 2016).

“But with the injuries there’s an opportunity and I was pleased with him when he came on at Southampton. Not an easy situation to adapt to, but he did very well.”

Hyndman broke into the senior setup at Fulham aged just 18, making 25 Championship appearances before switching to Cherries.

Since then he has made eight appearances in league and cup for Howe’s side as well as spending two loan spells away in Scotland at Rangers and Hibs.

There are just two games remaining for Cherries this season with Tottenham Hotspur visiting Vitality Stadium on Saturday (12.30pm) before a trip to Crystal Palace eight days later.

And with the likes of Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Diego Rico and Junior Stanislas all ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, Hyndman is not the only youngster in the mix for game time over the next few weeks.

“I think it’s great from the team’s perspective to see the ages of some of the players we had out there on Saturday,” said Howe.

“Jack Simpson, David Brooks, Emerson, Dominic (Solanke) and Chris Mepham are all very young.

“We are bedding some really young, talented players into the Premier League, which is incredibly difficult to do en masse, with everyone together.

“We’re missing a lot of our experienced players that would be showing them the ropes and how to play within the team, so they’re in at the deep end but they’re doing very well.”