AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has said his players are ‘hurting’ ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Premier League showdown with West Ham.
The Cherries are in the midst of a torrid run of form, having suffered 11 defeats in the club’s past 14 games.
After Everton edged to victory last weekend, Bournemouth were left holding the unwanted title of possessing the third-worst defensive record in the Premier League.
But Howe was bullish in the wake of defeat at Goodison, and stressed once again that his side had delivered a stronger showing on Merseyside.
The Bournemouth boss once again emphasised that his squad were firmly focused on changing their fortunes in this morning’s pre-match press conference.
He said: “I look at the guys and I can see their hurting because of the results. There’s an honesty about the team, in terms of all our endeavours to turn things around. There’s a real strength and belief in the group that that will happen.”
Howe also stressed the importance of understanding and empathising with his players.
“I know them well. I think that’s a strength. We know each other very well, and we’ve been here before. This is nothing new for us, and I think that experience certainly helps. The team spirit and the feeling within the group is always important.
Recent speculation has seen star striker Callum Wilson linked with a big money move to the Cherries’ opponents this weekend, West Ham. But Howe insisted he was confident the ex-Coventry frontman would remain at Vitality Stadium this month:
“I’m confident. We’ve had no interest in any of our players. Everything has just been speculation, which you understand because this is the month for it. I’m sure it won’t be the last thing we hear.
“But from my perspective, and the team that we have here above me, we’re always working together to try and find solutions to make the team better, and the squad stronger. They’re the main things, and we’ll do that again as we have done through the process we’ve been together for the benefit of Bournemouth.”
When questioned about the reported £75 million price tag, the Cherries manager played down the importance of valuations, and instead urged Wilson to continue to perform at the highest level:
“I don’t want to place any more pressure on Callum, or any of my team by talking about things that aren’t important. For me, what would be important is Callum working hard for the team and producing his best performances on a consistent basis. For him, thinking about transfer fees, values and other clubs, I would recommend he focuses on Bournemouth and the games to come.”
The England international is faced with a late fitness test ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“We’re going to have to make a late call on him, he’s got a minor hamstring injury so we’ll see,” Howe said. “At this stage, it’s difficult to know. We’ve still got a training session. But with hamstring injuries you’ve got to be very careful. As much as we want him back fit, we have to make sure we protect the long-term.”