Belfast Telegraph

Eddie Howe: Bournemouth 'some way off' being 'serious rival' for Southampton

Bournemouth must continue to develop on and off the pitch if they are to become serious rivals for Southampton, according to manager Eddie Howe.

The Cherries have established themselves in the Premier League since securing promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2015.

Despite continued progress on the field with last season's ninth place, Howe knows more hard work is ahead as the south-coast club look to move out of their current 11,450-capacity Vitality Stadium for a new home in Kings Park.

"I see it as a derby, I do. It's as close as we are going to get really," Howe said at a press conference ahead of Sunday's visit of Saints.

"I think the rivalry is growing. I don't think at the start, with our first meeting in the Premier League, it was viewed like that for them probably more than us.

"Now we have had a few games and experienced it, it is up to us to grow as a club and continue to challenge every department we have to become a serious rival for Southampton, I still feel we are some way off that.

"On the pitch, we have been competitive against them, the games have been tightly contested, so we look forward to re-engaging that battle."

Bouremouth host the Saints looking for an instant response from the midweek home defeat by Burnley, which ended a three-game unbeaten run.

Former Portsmouth striker Jermain Defoe could feature for the home team following a calf problem, while goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is likely to be on the bench against his old club.

Howe believes both men are well equipped to handle whatever reception they are given by the travelling supporters.

"For the former Portsmouth players we have, the Southampton fans won't forget their history, but the players in question will enjoy that," Howe said, quoted on the club's website.

"Against Burnley we didn't get our fans into the game, so we have to make sure against Southampton that we do get them involved and give them something to get behind."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph