AFC Bournemouth manager Scott Parker has stressed the need for midfielder Philip Billing to constantly be ‘engaged’ in games ‘constantly’ after showing flashes of quality this season, speaking in an interview with the Bournemouth Daily Echo.
The 25-year-old, who already had three years of Premier League experience under his belt with Huddersfield Town and the Cherries, arrived at the Vitality Stadium from the former in 2019 for a £15m fee and has proved to be a key player for the second-tier side.
Despite the south-coast outfit’s relegation from the top flight in 2020, the Danish international remained committed to the cause and recorded 12 goal contributions in 34 Championship appearances last term, almost guiding the Cherries back to the Premier League before being knocked out in the play-off semi-finals by eventual winners Brentford.
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He has started this campaign in a similar vein, scoring three times in seven second-tier displays and popping up at crucial times to secure an extra seven points for his side with his goals.
Although they currently sit in third place after West Brom and Coventry City’s victories over Queens Park Rangers and Peterborough United last night, they have the opportunity to reclaim their place at the summit of the Championship with a home victory over Luton Town this afternoon.
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And ahead of this clash, Bournemouth manager Parker has urged Billing to stand up and be counted at all times, saying: “I came across Phil the first real time when I was playing against him. I was on the bench for Fulham, he was playing for Huddersfield.
“I just remember looking at someone who, in every facet of the game that day he had everything – physical, technical.
“And then since I’ve been around him, it’s an area of his game that I feel like he needs to be engaged in the game constantly.
“I feel like he has tendencies to be in moments of games. And we are working very hard, he’s working very hard and that’s the most important thing.
“I can sit in front of Phil and I can give him ideas and I can try and change things, but ultimately you need someone engaged, you need someone who cares, you need someone who has got the capabilities of them working hard to try and change that and he is doing that.”
On his day, you can tell Philip Billing is a class above most Championship midfielders and with his all-round contribution, you know the Dane is a safe pair of hands to have in your starting 11.
His goalscoring contributions from midfield will be crucial in helping the likes of Dominic Solanke, Morgan Rogers, Ryan Christie and others in their quest to achieve promotion back to the top flight.
Solanke may have the potential to be a 20-goal per season striker, but they need contributions from around the pitch to have the attacking firepower needed to reach the top of the Championship, something that could be even more important with Sam Surridge’s departure to Stoke City in the summer.
Parker previously noted the things that go unnoticed about the 25-year-old impress him the most – but no players can afford to go missing in their quest for promotion with the likes of West Brom, Sheffield United, Fulham, Coventry City and others all likely to be on their tail throughout the season.
This is why you can’t blame the Cherries’ manager for calling on his players to step up, even those who are contributing most. Billing’s consistency could be a game-changer for the south-coast side, so he’s definitely a player to look out for having been linked with Norwich City in the summer.