Three players facing make or break seasons at Bournemouth

Benik Afobe of AFC Bournemouth (L) and Eddie Howe, Manager of AFC Bournemouth (R) shake hands after the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Swansea City at Vitality Stadium on...

Here is a look at three Bournemouth players facing a battle to assert themselves in the upcoming season.

Eddie Howe, manager of AFC Bournemouth looks on before the pre-season friendly match between AFC Bournemouth and Valencia CF at Vitality Stadium on July 30, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.

Bournemouth are in the process of establishing themselves as a consistent Premier League club.

Their meteoric rise from the bottom of the English Football League to the Premier League in just six seasons is an incredible feat, and to maintain their top-tier status with initially a 16th place finish in 2015/16 and then a remarkable 9th place last campaign demonstrates how far the club has come.

But here are three players that need to demonstrate they are worthy of manager Eddie Howe's cause in what will be a challenging third top flight season:

Brad Guzan of Middlesbrough looks on as Benik Afobe of AFC Bournemouth attempts to score during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Middlesbrough at the Vitality Stadium...

#3 - Benik Afobe

Bournemouth's no.9 hasn't enjoyed the best start to life at Dean Court, scoring just 10 goals in 47 appearances for The Cherries - at a strike rate of one goal nearly every five games. Breaking their transfer record to sign the striker from Wolves; a better return was expected.

Afobe has missed a plethora of chances when in the team and needs to be more clinical to impose himself in the Premier League. 

All is not lost, and it is plain to see the 24-year-old possesses many attributes that could prove he has a future at the top of the English game, his movement and pace especially. 

If those attributes aren't displayed regularly this season, however, Howe may well look to move him on in search of a more reliable replacement.

Asmir Begovic of AFC Bournemouth leaves the pitch as he is substituted during the pre-season friendly match between AFC Bournemouth and Valencia CF at Vitality Stadium on July 30, 2017 in...

#2 - Asmir Begovic

The 57-time Bosnia and Herzegovenia international cost The Cherries £10m (according to The Mirror) which is a very large sum for a 30-year-old goalkeeper for a club like Bournemouth - especially considering their administration in the not-so-distant past.

However, times have changed and the Premier League provides the platform for sums like these provided a team can remain there. Begovic has been acquired to provide a safety net to ensure that.

What makes this season important for Begovic is his well-known lack of action during the past two seasons at Chelsea, playing second-fiddle to the world-class Thibaut Courtois - making just two appearances in the Premier League for The Blues last campaign.

The Ex-Stoke stopper decided a move to feature mainly on the bench, wasting two of his peak years, was the right decision, so this transfer to Bournemouth where he will be first-choice now has to work. 

Begovic has to prove himself again, as a quality Premier League keeper and to himself. After several stellar years at Stoke he definitely possesses the capability to - both Bournemouth and Begovic need that to come to a realisation.

Max Gradel of AFC Bournemouth in action during a Pre Season Friendly match between AFC Bournemouth and Estoril Praia at the Marbella Football Center on July 15, 2017 in Marbella, Spain.

#1 - Max Gradel

Max Gradel can be a infuriating player to watch, it is clear for all to see he has so much talent - and performances for Ivory Coast suggest the same too - but in recent seasons for reasons of either injuries or inconsistencies Bournemouth have failed to see that talent harnessed.

The Ex-Leeds United and Leicester City winger was signed from St.Etienne for big money - after a fantastic season in Ligue 1, scoring 17 goals in 2014/15 - but his fee has certainly not been paid back as of yet, only finding his way into the starting line up in 11 league matches in his second spell at the club.

He will want to leave if not granted more first-team action but when played he is often wasteful in possession and with no end product, so needs to earn that right.

Ten years ago as a 19/20-year-old Gradel made a huge impact on-loan at The Cherries, scoring nine goals in 34 league appearances (albeit in League One). These memories live strong in the minds of long-serving Bournemouth fans and it would please them greatly for the flying winger to tear up Premier League defences in the same fashion. 

However, it does seem that the time to actually do that is running that.

Do you agree or disagree with the choices? Are there any others you feel are missed out? Comment below if so.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch