CHAMPIONSHIP high-fliers Bournemouth have pre-empted any bids for their in-form Ireland hopeful Harry Arter by signing up the midfielder on a new contract, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
The 25-year-old (pictured), who was capped at underage level by the Republic and has been scouted by both Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane this season, has been a key figure in Bournemouth's rise to the top of the Championship table.
After scoring six goals in 28 games for the Cherries this season, Arter was making bigger clubs take note and to prevent a January bid Bournemouth have signed him up on a new deal, along with team-mate Matt Ritchie.
"Harry and Matt Ritchie are key players in what we are striving to achieve so to have tied them both to long contracts in the space of a week has been great business," Cherries CEO Neill Blake said.
"The manager has made it perfectly clear that he wants to keep the squad together and improve it and this is another huge statement of intent by the club. Harry can be a big player for us as we look to progress and his decision to sign a new contract shows he has faith in the club's ambition."
Meanwhile, Cork-born defender Anthony O'Connor hopes to secure a move away from Blackburn Rovers after he turned down the chance of a move to League Two side Plymouth Argyle.
The 22-year-old had impressed during a loan spell at Plymouth but that deal has now expired and O'Connor, who has yet to play for the Blackburn first team, is back at Ewood Park.
And Plymouth boss John Sheridan failed in a bid to sign the player.
"We offered Anthony O'Connor a permanent deal and Anthony O'Connor doesn't want to sign a permanent deal at any club," said ex-Ireland midfielder Sheridan.
"He wants to keep his options open. Respect to the chairman, he was willing to pay the bit of money that Blackburn wanted, but it's Anthony's decision."