AFC Bournemouth V Stoke at Vitality Stadium : Match Preview

05 May 2017 01:34

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe determined to secure Premier League status

Eddie Howe is determined to guarantee Bournemouth's status in the Premier League before turning his attention to "a very exciting end to the season".

The Cherries host Stoke on Saturday with 41 points already on the board and in 10th place following successive wins over struggling Middlesbrough and bottom club Sunderland.

Given Swansea are nine points behind in 18th and hold a far inferior goal difference, it is only a most highly improbable outcome which would see Bournemouth head back down to the Sky Bet Championship in the final three games.

Despite the odds being well stacked in his side's favour, Howe remains focused on delivering a guaranteed place among the elite once again for a club which not so long ago was facing financial oblivion.

"Looking towards the long term, the objective is always first to stay in the Premier League and we have not done that yet, so we need to focus on that first and then it is about finishing as high as you can and that is what we will be trying to do," said the Bournemouth boss.

"I just want to focus on the (Stoke) game and if we can win it then we will be mathematically safe and will be on for a very exciting end to the season."

Bournemouth finished the previous campaign in 16th on 42 points so Howe will be looking to better that - and bring in some extra funds in bonus payments.

"I don't need any reminding, but the money's not the motivating factor, the will to win is," he said.

"My motivation is always to win and to inspire my team to go out and win."

Bournemouth will be without striker Benik Afobe because of a hamstring strain.

Midfielder Dan Gosling continues to nurse a calf problem, so Lewis Cook could again come into the side and French forward Lys Mousset is in contention to deputise for Afobe.

Meanwhile, Stoke manager Mark Hughes expects clubs to show a firm interest in Jack Butland - but has stressed that is "for the future".

The goalkeeper recently returned to the first team having spent just over a year on the sidelines after fracturing his ankle while playing for England.

He has made two appearances so far and produced an impressively solid showing in the latest outing, Stoke's 0-0 home draw with West Ham last weekend that was watched from the stands by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

Butland has been linked with Premier League big guns in the past and this week it was reported Manchester City are considering making a move for him this summer - something put to Hughes on Friday.

When asked if he felt he will have a job on his hands trying to keep hold of the 24-year-old, Hughes said: "Jack's an outstanding keeper and I'm sure in the future there will be probably more concrete interest in him.

"At the moment it's just speculation, just because he has got back in the team after a year out. All the speculation that was beginning to grow prior to the injury is starting all over again. It's to be expected.

"But I think from Jack's point of view, he is clear in his own mind that he needs just to get back fit and well and really establish himself back in the first team here.

"Once he's over that process, then any further ambitions need to be looked at in the future.

"I think he understands what he's got here. He's got a good club, he is playing in the Premier League and has had senior England recognition while here. I know he's very happy in terms of how he's been able to develop and the part we have played.

"Jack will have suitors in the future, no doubt, but that's for the future.

"His immediate focus certainly is just playing well for Stoke and making sure he's okay."

Stoke will check on Saido Berahino (illness) and Jonathan Walters (knee) ahead of the game.


Source: PAR


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