AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said Lewis Cook’s return is a “boost” as his side look to gain their first ever win at St Mary’s in the Premier League.
After both teams have had strong starts to the season, a strongly contested match is expected in this South Coast derby, where both sides have the chance to move into third place.
With Sunday’s return of star player Lewis Cook, along with Simon Francis and Lloyd Kelly appearing in the Under 21’s 8-0-win midweek, the Cherries will be positive about tomorrow’s fixture.
Howe said: “Lewis is very popular, not just off the pitch but on the pitch as well.
“The players in the team were boosted by that as they like playing with him, they trust him with the ball, and this was shown early in the game.
“The mood around the group has been good since his return and I’m sure that Francis and Kelly’s return will have similar feelings within the squad.”
An unfancied side to challenge the top 7?
With only three points separating third and sixteenth place in a very congested league table, many are left wondering whether this will aid an unexpected side in breaking into a top 7 place.
Although it is still early in the season, Cherries fans are hopeful they can be in contention for European football.
Howe said: “It’s very early to make dramatic conclusions of how the season will unfold.
“We had a great start to the season last year, and we are trying to build momentum in the campaign and get that confidence going into every game that we can win.”
Since Ralph Hassenhuttl’s arrival at St Mary’s, the saints have marched back into contention for a top 7 place and will be looking to further their fantastic start to the season with a win tomorrow.
Howe said: “They’ve improved under their new manager with his new philosophy. “They are certainly a very hard-working team and the game will have a great atmosphere.
“Both going into it are confident so it should be a great match.”
Lewis Cook is expected to feature again tomorrow, whilst Simon Francis and Lloyd Kelly who featured midweek are working their way back to full fitness.
David Brooks is also making good progress in his recovery.
Southampton v AFC Bournemouth will take place on Friday 20th September at 8pm at St Mary’s Stadium.