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First team

Team news: Billing fit, late call for King

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Eddie Howe will be able to call on Philip Billing in Wednesday’s match with Newcastle United, while a late call will be made on Joshua King’s availability for the match.

Billing was replaced in the second half of last week’s match away at Wolves but is fit and available to take part this midweek.

Striker King missed last Wednesday’s trip to Molineux with an ankle injury, sustained during the opening restart match with Crystal Palace.

The injury was initially feared to be serious, with a scan revealing it to be a very minor strain of his ligament, meaning that the Norwegian is close to a return against the Magpies.

“Josh King had an ankle injury,” said manager Howe in his pre-match press conference. “He still hasn’t trained with us so he’ll be touch and go for the game.

“Phil Billing will be fit for the game after his dead leg last week, I can’t think of too much other injury news to report on.”

Callum Wilson is a definite absentee, the England striker picking up a tenth yellow card of the campaign in last week’s match and now serving a mandatory two-game suspension, with midfielder Jefferson Lerma currently one caution away from the same fate.

Howe spoke about Wilson’s absence and the chance it offers to other members of his squad: “I thought his last booking was incredibly harsh as he was going for the ball, but his miss is somebody else’s opportunity, that has to be the way to look at it.”

Howe also talked on his side’s approach and their need to get goals and points in the seven matches that remain for his side in the battle for Premier League safety.

“We haven’t scored enough goals in recent games, and we haven’t kept enough clean sheets,” he explained. “Definitely goalscoring has been an issue for us throughout the season and the biggest concern as that it’s been very unlike us.

“Historically we’ve always scored goals and historically we’ve probably also conceded them. The fact the goals column has been tough to impact upon has maybe contributed to a dip in confidence.

“I think some of the games have been harsh on us, we’ve lost by very small margins. I look back on the games before lockdown and there were some very tough defeats there when we’d played well.

“Since lockdown the two games have been tight, but we haven’t done enough to impact our oppositions’ goalkeepers.”

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