by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
Eddie Howe has expressed confidence in his Cherries squad, after the Dorset club failed to bring in any new players during the January transfer window.
With a £5.5m bid for Brentford defender Chris Mepham reportedly rejected on Deadline Day, Bournemouth have had a quiet January and are the only team in England’s top flight to not make a signing.
But Howe told the media at his pre-match press conference that his aim is to work with the squad already available to him: “I’ve always maintained throughout the journey here that I have total belief in my players and I think that’s the only way you can work.
“The aim for me has always been to improve the players that we have rather than look for new players to make a difference.
“It doesn’t mean that the transfer market isn’t important to us, it was something we were continually looking at and seeing what possibilities there were for us in the market.”
The Cherries come into the Stoke clash off the back of a superb 3-0 victory at last season’s champions Chelsea. Man of the match Callum Wilson opened the scoring, with Junior Stanislas and ex-Blues centre-half Nathan Ake rounding off a dream away day in the capital.
But Howe has stressed that his players mustn’t let the win at Stamford Bridge negatively affect the performance at the Vitality tomorrow.
“Every game is so different and in this division, every game is so difficult.” the Cherries boss explained. “I think it will be an entirely different game, we’re at home playing against a team in a very good place themselves, having changed manager and Paul Lambert has come in and made a difference to the team.
“So we just need to make sure there’s no negative effect of the Chelsea performance, only positives and how we start the game will be crucial.”
“We’re pretty much as we were ahead of the Stoke City game. Adam Smith sat out against Chelsea in midweek after picking up a thigh problem away at West Ham.”We don’t think it’s very serious and he should be in contention very soon.
“Everyone else is okay – bar Tyrone Mings and Jermain Defoe. Jermain is building up his strength and fitness and hasn’t trained with us yet. It will be great to have him back after some time away.”
Kick-off at the Vitality is 3:00pm.