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First team

Boss backs versatility of squad to cover for injuries

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe described as “two big blows for us” the loss to injury of defensive duo Charlie Daniels and Diego Rico.

But boss Howe also backed the versatility of his squad to help cope with the absence of the club’s two recognised left-backs.

Daniels, who last week dislocated his kneecap in training, was joined on the sidelines by Rico after he sustained an ankle injury during the Cherries’ 3-1 defeat by Burnley six days ago.

Both players are expected to miss the rest of the season, joining fellow long-term casualties Lewis Cook, Simon Francis and Andrew Surman.

Summer signing Rico has made 16 appearances – including 12 in the Premier League – since arriving from La Liga outfit Leganes.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference this morning, Howe told the media: “We have a few long-term injured and added to the list last week were Charlie Daniels and Diego Rico, two big blows for us.

“Charlie will be missing for a long period of time. He is such a consistent performer and shows such a great attitude every day so he will be a big miss.

“Unfortunately, Diego rolled his ankle at the end of last week’s game and we will miss him for the rest of the season. It is another big blow because, potentially, he had good opportunities to play between now and the end of the season.”

Asked how he planned to fill the void, Howe replied: “We will see. The fortunate thing is we have players who are adaptable and can play in different positions and that’s hugely important at this stage so we will try to pick the right team for this game.”

Howe said he was hoping for an improved display from his team at Brighton tomorrow following two below-par showings in defeats by Leicester and Burnley: “When you look at the past two games, we have been disappointed with what we have delivered.

“In terms of how we play and performance-wise, we have dipped below the standards that we know we are capable of.

“Naturally, when you do that, I think you have to review yourself, as in me personally, go away and try to produce better for the players and better for everybody to give a true performance that we know were capable of.

“That’s what we have tried to do. We have gone back to basics, if you like, in terms of how we play and what our identity is and, hopefully, that will show this weekend.

“We have to look at it as an opportunity for us to put last week to bed and to get back to more positive feelings and the feelings of satisfaction, knowing you have given your best performance. That’s what we are looking for.”

Commenting on 16th-placed Brighton, who are five points behind the Cherries in the Premier League, Howe said: “They have done well at home this season.

“They are a very competitive team. Chris (Hughton) has them very well organised, they have some good technical players and some difference-makers in their frontline.

“We know from every encounter we have had against Brighton in our Premier League journey, they have been tough, tight games and we are going to need to be at our best to get over the line and win.”

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