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First team

Team news: Wilson Returns, Cook Close


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Callum Wilson returns to contention for Thursday’s match with Tottenham Hotspur, while Steve Cook will be subject to a late decision regarding his fitness.

Callum Wilson comes back into contention for a place in the team after serving his two-match ban for collecting ten yellow cards this season, and will be looking to add to the eight Premier League goals he has so far.

Talking in his pre-match press conference, Eddie Howe spoke of his striker’s progress during his en-forced break: “Callum’s always very focused, very motivated, that’s one of the hallmarks of him. He’s a very level guy in terms of how he trains.

“He’s always wanting to do more, he’s hugely ambitious for himself and for the team. He’s gone away and worked on certain aspects of his game, trying to be a player who can make a difference.”

Defender Cook missed the match at Old Trafford on Saturday with a minor hamstring strain, while fel-low centre-back Chris Mepham was unable to make the matchday squad due to a knee problem.

“Steve Cook’s improved,” continued Howe. “Whether he’s fit enough to play I don’t know at this moment in time. Chris Mepham has had an injection in his knee, we’re doing everything we can to try and avoid him having an operation.”

Just over a year ago the Cherries won their final home game of the season against Tottenham – their first-ever win over Spurs – with the manager talking about how his side achieved that victory and how they’ll look to replicate it on Thursday evening.

“We stayed in the game and I think against the top teams historically that’s what we’ve had to do to get results, probably bar the Liverpool game here when we beat them very late,” he said.

“With every other result we’ve got, we’ve had to stay in the game and be dogged and determined. The margins of the scorelines never got away from us and that enabled us to get a result later in the game.

“That day against Spurs, that’s what we did. Of course, they had sending offs and the game changed, but we kept plugging away and eventually got the result.”

Howe also spoke of the fighting spirit in his squad, and his hope that Saturday’s performance at Manchester United will have boosted his team’s confidence when it comes to attacking.

“Fighting spirit is very difficult to define, it’s still there,” he said. “Since lockdown I wouldn’t say it’s deserted us, but we’ve struggled to find the belief when we’ve conceded that we will come back.

“It’s more the knowledge that we can score goals, that we can lift ourselves out of this position and that’s the thing which we’ve struggled to re-find.

“Hopefully the game against Manchester united will have changed that. We scored two goals, we could have scored more, the offside flag denied us on a couple of occasions.

“I’d like to think that the feeling we had – that we could have come away from Old Trafford with more than two goals – will re-spark that belief that we can score more.”

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