by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe could be without wide-men Marc Pugh, Ryan Fraser and Jordon Ibe for Sunday’s showdown with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Cherries are winless in their last three after shipping a stunning last minute effort from Riyad Mahrez against Leicester City last weekend, which followed a late comeback against Newcastle on the south coast and resounding defeat at Huddersfield.
Before the disappointing away day at the John Smith’s, Howe was at the helm of Bournemouth’s seven match unbeaten streak in England’s top flight, with Fraser and Ibe playing a crucial role in improved performances at the start of the year.
The ex-Liverpool man’s delivery for Lys Mousset’s header rounded off the Cherries’ victory against Stoke at the Vitality last month, while Fraser has become a firm fan favourite after the opener at West Ham United and a clinical brace against Everton.
With the potential absences of Pugh, Fraser and Ibe, the Cherries boss stressed that there is competition for places in the squad – with Junior Stanislas and King also capable of playing on the flanks.
Meanwhile Spurs travel to the south coast with only two defeats in their last 22 games, but were knocked out of the Champions League by Juventus this week despite a respectable first leg stalemate in Turin.
The last time Mauricio Pochettino’s side reached the quarter finals of the competition was 2011, when current Cherries forward Jermain Defoe featured in a 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid.
The 35-year-old is in consideration for this weekend’s clash against his old side, after making his comeback from a serious ankle injury against Newcastle.
Defoe has struggled to find game time at the Vitality, with only three goals to his name in a Cherries shirt this season. But despite falling behind Callum Wilson and Josh King in the pecking order at club level, Howe has frequently tipped the experienced frontman to feature for England at this year’s World Cup.
Ahead of the clash on Sunday, Howe admitted his sights were still firmly set on securing Bournemouth’s spot in the Premier League next season, despite his side’s impressive resurgence in form since the start of the year.
The Cherries will be looking for another big name scalp, after surprisingly picking up maximum points against Arsenal and Chelsea in recent weeks, while Tottenham’s bid for a Champions League spot continues with the trip to Dorset.
Kick off at the Vitality is 4pm.