AFC Bournemouth vs Southampton - Bournemouth prepare to host Southampton

Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 by PA

Manager Eddie Howe will not waste any energy thinking about whether he can take Bournemouth into contention for Europe and is only focused on how to beat Southampton on Sunday.

The Cherries defeated champions Leicester 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday night, which was a third win in five Premier League games and leaves them in 10th place.

Victory over the Saints this weekend would see them not only leapfrog their south-coast rivals, but also move Bournemouth within striking distance of the top six.

Howe, though, is determined to keep everyone grounded, having seen how far the club have come in a short space of time.

"We are back to 10th now and the motivation for us is to try to keep moving up the league," the Bournemouth boss said at a press conference.

"The challenge for me is to improve the team and I have made that very clear all year, our target was to improve on last season.

"I haven't for a second thought about Europe, just about Southampton because we are trying to win this game."

Howe added: "If you can put two or three results together, it can transform your season, but in both ways, so we are mindful of that."

Bournemouth expect to have forward Callum Wilson available on Sunday after he was taken off towards the end of the Leicester game, where he was a second-half substitute.

Howe said: "Callum had a little bit of blurred vision after the game, so we need to get that checked, but I think he has been given the all clear."

Southampton boss Claude Puel has described the Saints' south coast rivals Bournemouth as "a good team, with good players and a good philosophy".

Saints head to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday for an eagerly-awaited encounter between two clubs level on Premier League points and separated by just one place with Southampton above in ninth.

Bournemouth beat champions Leicester three days ago, while Saints drew 0-0 at Stoke earlier this week, and Puel is relishing the derby clash.

"Most important is the quality of the team, because they have good technical players," he told

"For every position is a good player, and this is very important in the philosophy of this club. Southampton also try to have that.

"We will play a good team, with good players and a good philosophy. I think it's interesting.

"I think on Sunday we can do a good game against a good opponent, who will try to play. This is interesting for the fans and for the football.

"We know it's important for the supporters. The two places are close. All this gives a good intensity to the game and a good atmosphere.

"Of course, the result is important for the fans, but also for us. We need to show good concentration."

Matt Targett has joined Charlie Austin in being an anticipated long-term Southampton injury absentee.

Targett has undergone surgery on a hamstring problem and is expected to be sidelined for four months, while Austin faces shoulder surgery.

Puel has reported no further injury concerns ahead of Sunday, with Cedric Soares expected to feature after recovering from illness and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy being back in training.

But Oriel Romeu is sidelined due to a one-match ban after recently collecting his fifth booking of the season.

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