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First team

Team news: Late calls ahead of Watford

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Eddie Howe expects to make ‘last-minute decisions’ on player fitness ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Watford.

The Cherries boss sat down for his pre-match press conference on Friday and said: “We’re getting there with some, there are a couple of problems with others.

"The long-term absentees won’t change but there are a couple who are getting really close. We’ll wait and see, there are a few last-minute decisions for me to make."

Howe added: “We trained this week in small numbers and I’ll make a late call on a couple of others.”

Following Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup victory over Luton Town, the club are encouraging supporters to wear their colours and create a thunderous atmosphere at Vitality Stadium and Howe recognised his side’s responsibility in turning their home stadium into a fortress.

He said: “This is a massive game for us, the players know that, we know that and fans know that. It is a key run coming up and we can’t wait any longer, we need points.

“Teams used to fear coming here, it was a tight stadium with a really good atmosphere. What we need is that atmosphere back which only we, the team, can create. I’m desperate to get that back.”

Howe takes on his ninth Watford manager during his time in charge of the Cherries and he reserved praise for Nigel Pearson ahead of Sunday’s game.

Howe said: “Nigel’s done very well. They change managers a lot historically but this is a clear shift in direction from them.

“They’ve got really good players, I’ve always believed that, and we’ve had some tight encounters in the past with them so I imagine it will be the same again, small margins will define it.”

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