Ryan Fraser ‘keeping options open’ over new Bournemouth deal, says Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe admits winger Ryan Fraser is “keeping his options open” regarding a new contract with Bournemouth.

Fraser’s existing deal expires at the end of the season and he has been linked with a free transfer to Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Cherries boss Howe is eager to keep the 25-year-old at the Vitality Stadium but has so far been unable to convince him to put pen to paper.

“In terms of his contract, that’s obviously for him to decide what he wants to do with his future,” Howe told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game with Wolves.

“We would love him to stay and commit to us but, if not, we need to get the best out of him between now and the end of the season.

“We’ve had conversations with Ryan to try and persuade him to stay but, at the moment, he’s keeping his options open.”

Scotland international Fraser, who moved to the south coast from Aberdeen in 2013, was one of the division’s standout performers last term, contributing seven goals and 14 assists for the Cherries.

He has so far failed to replicate that form this term and is a doubt for the weekend after missing two Euro 2020 qualifiers for his country during the international break because of a minor knee issue.

Fraser was recently quoted as saying it was difficult to see close friends, such as Marc Pugh, leave the club, but manager Howe dismissed suggestions about loneliness.

“I think those comments were probably taken slightly out of context. I think people jump on things like this,” said Howe.

“He’s got some really good friends in the squad, as he mentioned in the interview, Dan Gosling, Nathan Ake, he’s very close with those guys, always socialising in and around them so I think it’s a story that isn’t entirely accurate.

“I think Ryan’s just very honest when he speaks and probably he’s given the impression that he’s lonely but I can guarantee you he’s not.”

In addition to a late fitness test for Fraser, Howe’s attacking options have been dealt a blow with forward Joshua King ruled out of the Wolves game by a hamstring injury sustained with Norway.

Jefferson Lerma returns from a one-match ban, but fellow midfielder David Brooks remains sidelined by an ankle issue.

Howe’s ninth-placed side are level on 16 points with Nuno Espirito Santo’s visitors.

He anticipates a tight contest and, after a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Newcastle a fortnight ago, wants his players to reproduce the spirit which brought a 1-0 win over Manchester United the previous weekend.

“For us, this is an important game, back at home,” said Howe.

“Our last home game was a great experience against Manchester United, where the supporters were immense for us and the players produced a great performance. We’ll be looking to try and recreate that again, if possible.

“What we do know is this game is going to be tough against a very good team, very well organised side, who’ve had good form of late so we know we’re going to have to be at the top of our game.”