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First team

Team news: Brooks making progress

David Brooks with physio Steve Hard.

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Manager Eddie Howe says David Brooks has had his “best week yet” as he steps up his return to first-team action.

Ahead of Bournemouth’s trip north to Burnley, the Cherries manager spoke about the availability in his squad for the Saturday afternoon kick-off at Turf Moor.

Jefferson Lerma returns to the first-team picture after missing out the most recent match at Bramall Lane through suspension, with the injury absentees making good progress.

Joshua King and Jack Stacey also returned to the squad for the most recent fixture away at Sheffield United.

“Our long termers are still out and no-one will be returning for this game,” said Howe in his pre-match press conference at Vitality Stadium. “They are making good progress and we have a group of four players who are making progress slowly.

“David Brooks has probably had his best week yet, his ankle felt stronger, with minimal pain in there, but he’s still got a way to go.

Brooks is joined by Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma as players who have been missing in recent weeks, with the manager excited to be able to welcome key players back..

“They are players who can add quality,” said Howe. “You can add Chris Mepham to that as well. It will give us a big lift to get them back before the end of the season, so it’s very important that they come back soon.”

With the Cherries hunting for precious points in the battle to preserve their Premier League status, Howe spoke of the desire for his side to pick up improved results on the road.

“Over the next few games we’re going to need a better away record. I look back at games and there are certain games where we should have got more points,” he said.

“All the games are important, and in the last three you’ve seen an upturn in performance. Brighton was very good for the last 60 minutes, Aston Villa was very good throughout and in the first half against Sheffield United we were good. That’s where we’ll need to be for the match at Burnley.

“You know when you go to Turf Moor you’ve got to be prepared physically and mentally for a tough game, hopefully our quality will show on the day.”

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