Eddie Howe: Bournemouth have become better team since Manchester City loss
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes his side have improved greatly since they last faced Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League.
The Cherries were hammered 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium in October, and Howe is hoping his players will show the progress they have made when the sides go head to head again on Saturday at the Vitality Stadium.
"I think naturally we have moved on, hopefully for the better but that will be tested in the performance," said the 38-year-old, whose team head into the weekend in 13th place - 12 points clear of the relegation zone.
"That game was a difficult one for us. We conceded very early and when you go away it does make it more difficult.
"The key thing is we learned from that and we have become a better team for the experience.
"I still feel the players are confident despite the Tottenham game (3-0 loss at White Hart Lane in last match before international break), which was a really disappointing performance.
"We still feel as though we need results and points. I don't think we can afford to step off, and we will try and deliver."
City are fighting for a place in the Champions League next season as manager Manuel Pellegrini plays out his final games in charge before being replaced by Pep Guardiola in the summer, and Howe is aware the visitors still have a lot to play for.
"(Pellegrini) is still their manager so it changes nothing for us," the Bournemouth boss said.
"(It has) been a difficult season for them - p robably a season where they had such high expectations and things haven't gone quite the way they wanted them to.
"They are still in arguably the biggest competition, the Champions League, and if they can still win that then they will be looking back on an historic season for them."
Bournemouth players headed to Dubai for a training camp and a spot of relaxation following the defeat at Tottenham on March 20, and it proved a welcome break from the gruelling Premier League programme.
"I enjoy the international breaks because it gives you a chance to train," Howe said.
"We have a mixture of giving them a rest - it's been a long season, a tough season - and then (working) on the tactical side (which) we have not shied away from.
"We had a break in Dubai which was good for the players so hopefully we will come back refreshed.
"It's a long season and the weather is changeable and difficult at times, so it is nice to take them to a different environment.
"The facilities we used were class and the weather was great so from that perspective the players cannot help feel better about themselves."
One of the players who benefited from the trip to Dubai was long-term absentee Tyrone Mings. The defender was taken off just six minutes into his debut in August and has since suffered a setback in his rehabilitation.
Howe said: "(Mings) has had a slight setback, nothing major.
"When he suffered the injury we were looking at between nine and 12 months, and it's looking more like the 12.
"He has had some staples removed from his knee. It is not a serious operation but it has set him back so it will be into next season before we see him.
"It was nice to be able to bring him (to Dubai) with the fit guys and a couple of other injured players to bond them with the squad. It was good for him mentally."