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First team

Francis Raring for PL Restart

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Simon Francis says he is looking forward to being back in the Premier League after the restart moved a step closer this week.

On Thursday, Premier League shareholders voted to recommence matches on June 17th, provided that all safety requirements are in place, with the Cherries having nine matches left in their 2019/20 campaign.

Skipper Francis has put forward his positivity at getting back out and playing between the white lines.

“I speak on behalf of a lot of people, players, staff and families as well, my kids are missing it, they’re looking forward to seeing it back,” he said.

“Of course, it’s not going to be quite how we’ve know it over the years without the fans, but we’re nearly there.”

With games set to be played on the usual home and away basis – albeit behind closed doors – the Bournemouth defender is still optimistic that playing at Vitality Stadium will benefit his side.

“I’m not sure until the games are played,” he said of the change in home advantage. “I’d like to think we still have that because I think the boys will be comfortable in their home surroundings and sleeping in their own beds the night before.

“I know that might sound silly to some people but that is a comfort that players need at times. Sometimes you can get unsettled on away games so I think the home advantage will benefit us, but really we’ll not know until we go out and play those fixtures.”

The enforced suspension of the Premier League has also given the Cherries squad the chance to regroup, with some key men closing in on fitness returns, including influential midfielder David Brooks.

“He’s fully fit now,” said Francis of the Wales international. “He’s training with the group and raring to go. He’s been given a second chance at the season because it looked like he would have been out for the whole of it.

“He was devastated at one point but situations can bring positives and Brooksy and there could be a couple of the other lads being back fit, Steve Cook hopefully in the next few weeks will be joining back in with training.

“We may have benefitted from the break in this sense and if we can keep our squad fully fit then we give ourselves a better chance.”

Reports have suggested that the Premier League could return with teams allowed to make up to five substitutions per match to ease the burden on players expected to play more often than usual.

Francis gave his opinion on the matter: “I think it’s a safe decision to be made with the five subs because with the amount of games we’re going to have to squeeze into a short space of time with only the three weeks of contact training to get ready, there are going to be niggles and knocks that players are going to pick up.

“We’ve seen that in Germany already, with Dortmund the other day a couple of players weren’t looking fully match fit.

“I think preserving the match fitness of our squad is important, trying to keep our squad fit, that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

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