If Harry Arter has played his last game for Bournemouth, then there will be consolation in the knowledge that, after a recent clear-the-air discussion with manager Eddie Howe, he will be leaving the club on good terms.
Right now, the midfielder knows he can stay and fight for his place after a season to forget — his last appearance for the Cherries was back in January — but he also accepts the reality that his future could lie away from the club he has called home for the last eight years.
“I know in my heart that I can go back to Bournemouth and get back in the team there,” he says.
“Agents and people at the club who run it, it’s up to them to work out what’s best for the club and what’s the best for me. The level of respect me and the manager have, if an opportunity comes up that is good for Bournemouth and is good for me, I’ll let my agent and the club discuss it.
“There is no sort of animosity between me and the club. With all that we’ve achieved it would be sad if there was. That’s why that chat (with Howe) at the end of the season was probably crucial really because it established where we were at in our relationship as a manager and player. He’s someone I’ll always be grateful to. If I am to play again for Bournemouth, I’ll always give my all for him and the club.”
With a late injury — tendonitis in his Achilles — bringing his already dismal season on the Premier League sidelines to an all-too-appropriate premature full stop, Arter’s most immediate goal now is to regain full fitness and avail of the opportunity of these two friendly games to remind Martin O’Neill about what he has to offer in a green shirt.
But even his presence in the latest squad should stand as a rebuke to those social media trolls who, in the past, have questioned — and, worse, often crudely criticised — the London-born player’s commitment to the Irish cause.
“There was a rumour I pulled out (of a squad) because I was debating whether to play for Ireland or to declare for England,” he recalls.
“I can see why people were aggrieved by that but there was no truth in it. I’ve always been committed to Ireland, even at underage level. There were opportunities to declare for England at U16 and U17 level and it was never in my mind to do so. The culture and togetherness here is unique and very special. I’ve loved every minute of being in the squads.
“I feel now it’s time to try establish myself as a permanent fixture in the squad. The manager has made it clear he’s changed the dynamic of the group with new faces. It’s down to me to make sure I continue to be picked. And next season at club level is important to make sure I make the right decision based on that.”
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