MATT Ritchie believes both Swindon and Bournemouth will be firmly in the promotion race come the end of the season, but felt the time was right to swap the County Ground for a new challenge on the south coast.

The 23-year-old winger agreed personal terms on a lucrative three-and-a-half year contract with the Cherries yesterday, moving to Dean Court for a fee believed to be in the region of £500,000 including a sell-on clause.

The former Portsmouth man is targeting the Championship after completing his move, and firmly believes both his new and former club will be in contention when the season reaches the business end.

“I had some great times at Swindon but felt it was time to move on,” Ritchie told the Bournemouth Echo. “I won League Two with Swindon last season and my aim is to add another promotion to my CV this year.

“This is a great opportunity for me to hopefully reach the Championship with Bournemouth and have a successful time here. I really fancy us to do well.

“Both Swindon and Bournemouth are in a great position and I am sure they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. I am confident we can go up because we have got good backing, a good manager and a very good set of players. I have trained for the first time and you could see the standard is high and there is a lot of ability in the squad.”

Ritchie netted twice against the Cherries in Town’s 4-0 victory at the County Ground in September, and also lined up in the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Dean Court last month.

In those four months Eddie Howe replaced Paul Groves in the Bournemouth hot seat, allowing Ritchie to witness the transformation of a side struggling in League One into genuine promotion candidates.

“It was like playing two different teams,” he said. “The personnel were similar but the way they played and set-up were different. “The manager has come in and turned things round. In the game in Bournemouth, the organisation throughout the team was spot on.

“When you move, people expect things of you and the manager has signed me expecting me to do well. I need to provide and score goals and, hopefully, I can do that and help Bournemouth.

“I am sure the manager can get the best out of me and am really looking forward to working with him.”