Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic responded like an “ultimate professional” after being dropped for the Premier League victory over West Ham, according to manager Eddie Howe.
Bosnia and Herzegovina international Begovic had been ever-present in the top-flight for the Cherries since a £10million move from Chelsea in the summer of 2017.
But, after conceding 14 league goals during a four-game winless run, he lost his starting spot to 38-year-old Artur Boruc for Saturday’s much-needed 2-0 success against the Hammers.
“You tweak other positions in the team without really thinking about it at great length but the goalkeeper one is always analysed greatly, and I understand why,” said Howe.
“He (Begovic) was fine and he understood (the decision) and he very much supported Artur in his performance.
“He’s the ultimate professional, Asmir.”
Begovic, 31, has let in 103 goals in his 60 outings for the south coast club.
Former Poland keeper Boruc had not featured in a Premier League game since a 2-1 victory for the Cherries against Burnley in their penultimate fixture of the 2016/17 campaign.
He enjoyed a comfortable afternoon against Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers and had only one shot – a 79th-minute attempt from substitute Javier Hernandez – to deal with as goals from Callum Wilson and Joshua King earned the hosts’ victory.
Howe felt the former Celtic and Southampton keeper merited his opportunity after being restricted to 11 cup outings in the last two seasons.
“His form’s been very, very good,” said Howe.
“He’s trained excellently. I think in our game against Chelsea recently in the Carabao Cup he was outstanding, made a number of good saves.
“I just thought he deserved to play.”
Speculation about Marko Arnautovic’s future disrupted West Ham’s plans for the game and he was left out of their squad ahead of a potential big-money move to China.
Hammers manager Pellegrini claimed Austria forward Arnautovic had “his head on another issue” when justifying his team selection, handing Andy Carroll a second league start of the season in his place.
Carroll wasted the visitors’ best chance by somehow blazing over a gaping goal from close range when the game was goalless, leaving Pellegrini to back the one-time England striker to improve following an injury-hit campaign.
“He has had a long time without playing and it is not easy for a player to recover immediately,” said Chilean Pellegrini.
“He is working hard and I’m sure that he will improve game-by-game.”