By The Daily Echo
JORDAN Zemura is still getting to grips with life in the top-flight – but interim boss Gary O’Neill is backing him to “keep learning, keep improving, keep working”.
Zimbabwean international Zemura burst into the Cherries first team picture at the start of the last campaign under previous boss Scott Parker, with the 22-year-old taking the opportunity to make the left-back spot his own after the departure of Diego Rico.
Although Zemura’s game time was slightly hampered by a mixture of injuries, COVID, and international duty with Zimbabwe for the African Cup of Nations in January, the left-back was a pivotal figure under Parker, with his inclusion in a squad usually meaning Cherries were on the way for at least a point, if not all three.
In his first full season as a regular in the Championship, Zemura ended up on the losing side on just three occasions, despite playing 33 league games.
With Cherries opting to not add a left-back after promotion to the Premier League this summer, Zemura has remained as first choice, although again, he has missed games due to illness.
Still getting up to speed with the level of the Premier League, O’Neil conceded there will be “learning curves” for his young charge.
O’Neil told the Daily Echo: “It’s a big ask for him. He’ll have had learning curves already, I’m sure.
“If you speak to him about it, I’m sure there’s moments where playing at this level, it shocks you initially how small a mistake you need to make for someone to capitalise on it.
“I remember when I was playing in it, a hundred years ago or whenever it was!
“Sometimes you didn’t even realise you’d made a mistake and the level of the level of the player against you had capitalised on it.
“He’s a great lad so he’ll just keep learning, keep improving, keep working, which is what we all need to do.”
A six-time international for Zimbabwe, Zemura will not be on duty during the international break, with the Warriors still banned from international competition by FIFA.
The southern African country, alongside Kenya, were banned following “political interference”, and have not yet “met the criteria required by the FIFA Congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension”.
As such, Zimbabwe have been disqualified from their African Cup of Nations qualification group, meaning Zemura will certainly miss out on next summer’s competition, even if his country’s ban is lifted by FIFA.