Injustice still burns for Bournemouth over Tyrone Mings ban
Bournemouth will host West Ham on Saturday still bristling with a sense of injustice over the ban handed to Tyrone Mings.
Defender Mings begins a five-match suspension for his stamp on the head of Zlatan Ibrahimovic last weekend, an incident he, manager Eddie Howe and the club insist was accidental.
Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic received a three-match ban for his subsequent elbow on Mings, but the Cherries man was given a longer suspension after the Football Association stated the standard punishment would have been "clearly insufficient".
On Wednesday Bournemouth issued a statement in which they branded the decision "extraordinary" and claimed "there is absolutely no evidence to prove the incident was intentional".
That view was echoed by Howe in his pre-match press conference, while Mings took to Twitter to reveal his disappointment and hurt at the judgement.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that Bournemouth - without a win in 2017 - will have to do without Mings and midfielder Andrew Surman, who was sent off during the stormy 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, when they face the Hammers.
Howe said: "We're disappointed for Tyrone, we feel it was accidental.
"I don't think he has that kind of streak in him. Although he's a beast in stature he's a gentle giant on and off the pitch.
"I see a defender who has made a very good tackle trying to get back to his goal as quickly as possible. His focus is on the ball, not on what lies beneath him."
Bournemouth cannot appeal against the suspension so Howe will now be without Mings until the trip to Tottenham on April 15.
"We've looked at several options, but at the end of it we have to take the decision and move on," he added.
Meanwhile Mings, 23, has reiterated that he did not intentionally tread on Ibrahimovic.
"I am extremely disappointed at the FA's decision to ban me for five matches, following what was an accidental collision," he wrote.
"At no time was there any intentional stamp, or a movement to suggest that. My foot did not change course and at no point did I try and move my foot towards his head.
"My only focus was to get back in and defend, conduct like that is not part of my game. So for people to deem that I could intentionally stamp on a fellow professional's head is upsetting.
"It is an action that would not be acceptable in any walk of life, let alone on a football pitch, and one that would never cross my mind."
Better news for Howe is the potential return of captain Simon Francis, who will have a late fitness check after missing two matches with a hamstring injury.
"We'll wait and see," said Howe.
"There have been a couple of positives this week. Simon is not far away and Baily Cargill came on and did very well in his time on the pitch last week.
"Tyrone's suspension leaves us short with just a few games to go, but we have to pick ourselves up and move on as best we can."