JORDAN IBE, a target for Celtic last summer, is at the crossroads of his career as Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe insisted it is a “long way back” for the winger.
The 24-year-old forward, who was on Neil Lennon’s wanted pre-season wanted list, was handed a 16-month driving ban and fined £7,500 on Tuesday for crashing his £130,000 Bentley into a coffee shop, causing thousands of pounds of damage, before driving off last July.
Ibe has been absent from the team’s matchday squad for most of this season, being relegated to play with the Under-21s and restricted to two Premier League appearances this campaign.
Howe says he will not write off the forward who is out of contract in June, but admits “there needs to be a change” for the former Liverpool star to get back into his plans.
The manager told Sky Sports News: “It goes without saying, some of the things that have happened off the pitch certainly haven’t helped him, so we’ll wait and see on that.
“I’d be foolish if I sat here and said: ‘No, he’s played his last game’ – and then he ended up playing again. I never shut the door on anybody until they’ve left the club, I don’t think that’s the way to be, but certainly he’s got a long way back from here.
“I have no doubt about his quality and playing characteristics, but certainly there needs to be a change in Jordon’s life for him to reach the level that he can.”
Ibe joined in a £15million move from the Anfield side in 2016 and has since scored five goals in 92 appearances for the south coast club.
TRANSFER TIGHTROPE…Mohamed Elyounoussi’s Celtic future has not been settled.
Howe added: “His contract is up at the end of the season, but he’s been in the game long enough to know that things can change very quickly, let’s see.
“It does hurt, because I want every player to reach their dreams, their goals, achieve everything that they’re capable of achieving and I take that very personally and take responsibility for each player’s development.
“Jordon’s still young enough to make the changes that he needs to make to fulfil all his potential, I would believe that even if he was older. Anyone’s capable of changing, but you have to make sacrifices, you have to make changes, it’s only through hard work, dedication and disciplines that the players will have success.
“I don’t think you can punish people twice for the same thing, for me now it’s closed and Jordon now has to look to the future and we have to look to the future.”
Ibe will be a free agent if he isn’t offered an extension and he could come back on the Hoops’ radar as they search for wide players to take the place of Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan who left for Preston North Enf and Inter Miami respectively in January.
Aussie international Daniel Arzani is poised to return to Manchester City after his two-season loan spell that was ravaged by injury while Mohamed Elyounsoussi is also due to go back to Southampton.