Long-awaited return of Kem Izzet

ONE club is on the up, the other is on the way down.

Today’s hosts Bournemouth, since Eddie Howe returned as manager in mid-October, after a spell at Burnley, have embarked on a sensational unbeaten run extending to 12 matches, with nine wins and three draws.

Not surprisingly, Howe was yesterday named League One manager-of-the-month for November.

By contrast, the U’s have lurched from one defeat to another. Joe Dunne’s men have lost six of their last seven games, and today they are hit by several absentees.

Club skipper Kem Izzet has been powerless to help, at least on the pitch. Instead, he has had to bide his time, while recovering from a hip problem.

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His last start was former manager John Ward’s last game in charge – a 1-0 defeat at Scunthorpe on September 22 – and his last outing was a week later, as an 89th minute substitute in a 3-1 win over Hartlepool, Dunne’s first game at the helm.

But Izzet returns to the squad for today’s test at Dean Court.

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“My fitness is still a bit of an issue, because I haven’t managed to have a (reserves) game. They keep being cancelled,” admitted Izzet.

“But my hip is perfect. I’m feeling fitter and fitter, and fresher and fresher with every day, so I am raring to go really.

“I feel sharp and I feel I am ready to give people a run for their money now. So it’s down to the manager to see what he wants to do. If the manager wants me, he knows exactly where I am.

“I am ready, and I will give it all I’ve got.”

Despite the U’s alarming slump, Izzet remains confident that the tide will turn.

“It’s been a frustrating last few weeks. You want to be out there, giving the lads a helping hand, and I have not managed to do that,” the midfielder said.

“It’s a big test for the squad, and it’s how you react to it. Do we fall and wilt away, or do we stand up and be counted, and get a result at Bournemouth? Hopefully, one good result will kick-start the run we know we are capable of.

“I’m totally confident that this squad can it turn around. The results will change, and very very quickly.”

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