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First team

Team news: Brooks primed, Fraser won’t play

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Manager Eddie Howe has said David Brooks is in a good position to make a major impact on the Cherries’ final nine games, while Ryan Fraser won’t play again for AFC Bournemouth.

The Cherries manager spoke to the media via a special online video call on Friday morning, one of the regulations brought in as the Premier League restarts this week.

Fraser’s contract expires at the end of the June, with Howe confirming that the Scotland international will not play a part in the remaining Cherries matches he’s eligible for.

“He has played his last game for the football club,” said Howe. “He won’t be involved with us for the last nine games, I only want players who are fully focused on the relegation battle that we have ahead.

“Nobody could have predicted what would happen with the season shutting down due to the virus, Ryan’s then found himself in a very difficult situation because of that.

“It was my decision. These are the most important games we’ve had in recent times and we need everybody in the same position mentally, fighting tooth and nail and giving everything for the football club, and Ryan, unfortunately due to his contract situation, can’t commit to that.

“Two games for us wasn’t going to make the difference for us, we wanted a nine-game commitment and unfortunately he couldn’t give that.”

One player who could step back into the midfield is Brooks, who could play for the first time this season after fighting his way back from a campaign characterised by injuries.

Howe gave details of his expected involvement: “He’s looked really good in training so far, he’s looked fit, he’s overcome the ankle problem that he had and has looked better and better as the training we’ve had has gone on.

“In terms of game involvement, time will tell on that. Will he play every minute of every game? Probably not. Will he be able to make a major contribution to the games we have left? Hopefully yes.”

Assessing his squad, Howe now feels he has the best pool of players available to him, with several players now available having previously been on the sidelines.

“It feels good to be back, we’ll wait and see if the break came at a good time for us, we certainly had a lot of injuries to deal with when the season shut down, “ said Howe.

“I have the strongest squad that I’ve had this season, so we’ll see if that makes a difference over these last nine games.

“You always have niggles with certain plays as you build up but we don’t have many players who I can say won’t play in this game, the squad’s the strongest that it’s been.”

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