BOSS Eddie Howe insisted Spanish full-back Diego Rico had been “growing in confidence” having impressed in recent weeks.

The former Leganes defender has played 90 minutes in all of Cherries’ past four Premier League games, registering assists against Everton and Southampton.

The Burgos-born star has started five times in the top flight this campaign, already equalling the number of league starts he earned during his first season at Vitality Stadium.

Quizzed on Rico’s recent impact, Howe said: “I have been very impressed in recent weeks.

“He’s had a decisive say in a lot of games. If you look at the assists he has made for the team, his corners and free-kicks have been really valuable to us.

“You look at the Southampton game, the Everton game and the West Ham game. He has played a key role in goals for us which have changed the game at that moment.

“Tight games have been swung in our favour because of it.

“I think he has grown into the position, is growing in confidence all the time. The challenge for him is to maintain that progression.

“If he does with his qualities, he is going to be an important player for us.”