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Howe backing Lerma to improve disciplinary record

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has backed record signing Jefferson Lerma to rectify his alarming disciplinary record.

Colombia midfielder Lerma will serve a two-match suspension after becoming only the second Premier League player this season to receive 10 bookings.

The combative 24-year-old has been walking a disciplinary tightrope since Boxing Day but managed to go five top-flight games without a caution, prior to Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.

Howe was aware of Lerma’s competitive streak ahead of his £25million summer switch from Spanish club Levante after he was booked 16 times in LaLiga last term.

“He had a lot of bookings early in the season where he was just adjusting to the English game,” said Howe.

“Yes, he picked up a lot of bookings last year for Levante as well, but he is that type of midfielder.

“They’re the qualities that we wanted from him – obviously we don’t want him suspended.

“The pleasing thing is the last couple of months he has been very mindful and watchful while not impacting his performances, so he’s capable of making selective decisions on challenges and hopefully steering clear of future suspensions.”

Lerma was perhaps lucky to escape with only a yellow against Wolves after appearing to catch Joao Moutinho in the face with an elbow.

Having made 21 league appearances, he now sits alongside Watford’s Jose Holebas on 10 cautions and will be unavailable for the games against Arsenal and Manchester City, adding to Howe’s selection problems.

“I thought it was a good challenge at the time. Replays may tell me different,” added Howe.

“We know how important he is to the team and to lose him for two games is a huge blow, especially with the squad looking thin from the injuries we have.

“But it is what it is and we’ll have to get on with it.”

Bournemouth have been without injured attacking trio Callum Wilson, David Brooks and Junior Stanislas in recent weeks, while Lewis Cook and captain Simon Francis remain long-term absentees.

Defender Steve Cook, who had been ever-present in the league until missing out this weekend, has contributed to Howe’s concerns.

“He’s had a long-standing groin problem for a while and he’s been playing through it manfully for the team, for the club, knowing how important he is,” said Howe.

“This week it just got too much for him. I don’t think he’s had a major injury as such, it’s just been an aggravation.”

Referee Roger East awarded three penalties during a contentious contest at the Vitality Stadium.

Bournemouth forward Joshua King, who opened the scoring from 12 yards, missed a late spot-kick, minutes after Wolves striker Raul Jimenez had converted to level.

Despite both of Bournemouth’s penalty awards being debatable, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to criticise East and quickly turned his attention to the midweek trip to bottom club Huddersfield.

“We lost the composure and the momentum of the game, so something that we have to work on,” said the Portuguese.

“We have to recover well, Tuesday we go again.

“We cannot lose our focus, every day is important in our work.”