Survival the target for Hughton

Chris Hughton admits his only aim this season is to keep his Brighton side out of the bottom three in the Premier League.

The Seagulls face Bournemouth on Friday and, after beating West Brom 3-1 last Saturday, they will climb into the top ten if they can win at the Fitness First Stadium.

The Cherries have lost their first four fixtures and are 7/4 to be relegated this term while Eddie Howe's team can be backed at 12/5 to draw Friday's match.

Hughton said: "Certainly for us the most important thing is to make sure we are out of that bottom three.

"We know and expect it to be a tough season, that's normal. There will be lots of ups and downs and probably more than the table will be how we react to defeats, poor performances, and go again to try to pick up a good result.

"The four games we've played so far, I feel we've been right in them. That's probably the most important thing for me at this moment."

Before beating the Baggies, Brighton had lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City, drawn 0-0 with Watford and been defeated 2-0 at Leicester City.

Callum Wilson remains sidelined for Bournemouth following knee surgery while Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser are doubtful because of groin and ankle injuries respectively.

The Seagulls will be without Steve Sidwell, Sam Baldock and Beram Kayal but Bruno Saltor, Gaetan Bong and Izzy Brown are in contention to feature.

Cherries told to hold their nerve

Bournemouth head coach Eddie Howe has urged his players to hold their nerve after a difficult start to the new Premier League season.

The Cherries have lost all four league games they have played so far this term and will hope to get at least a point on the board when they play host to Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday evening.

And Howe remains confident that things will start to turn around, as long as his squad continue in the manner which has served them well in the top-flight in the last two seasons.

He told reporters: "It's about going back to basics for us now, get the fundamentals of our game functioning.

"Historically we've always been very, very good with the ball, very confident, and we haven't quite seen that and that's the most concerning thing.

"I wouldn't question the attitude of my players, yes the performances, but never the attitude. You see the attitude and how we want to work and want to win. That's all there.

"They haven't lost that, we just haven't delivered on game day. We've got to keep our nerve and I don't think it's far away from clicking at all."

The Cherries are 6/5 to claim a much-needed win on Friday evening and are 13/2 to win the game 1-0, with striker Joshua King 15/8 to score at any time.

Meanwhile, Seagulls boss Chris Hughton expects Bournemouth to get back on track in the not-too-distant future.

He added: "They have a lot of quality in the team and I've no doubt it will only be a short period of time before they start turning those results around.

"Probably by the standards they've had, they'll be disappointed, but there's certainly far more to come from them."

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Howe to monitor Defoe’s fitness

Eddie Howe is unsure whether Jermain Defoe will be fit enough to start for Bournemouth on Saturday against Watford.

The former Tottenham, West Ham and Portsmouth striker, who moved to the Cherries from Sunderland in the summer, was among the substitutes as Howe's side lost 1-0 at West Brom in the season-opener.

The 34-year-old came off the bench to replace Benik Afobe midway through the second half at The Hawthorns for a Bournemouth side that are 5/1 to be relegated from the Premier League this season.

Defoe picked up a groin injury in pre-season and only featured in the friendlies against Portsmouth and Valencia.

"He was not really close to a start on Saturday, not from a physical level," said Howe. "He didn't have enough football during pre-season. He missed the first week and then picked up a groin injury so he hasn't trained fully for two weeks.

"I thought it was the right decision to put him on the bench. It might be slightly different on Saturday though.

"We are looking at the fittest team as well because there are certain players who have missed elements of pre-season who we didn't feel were quite ready."

Bournemouth are 7/4 to keep a clean sheet against Watford on Saturday while the Cherries are 9/1 to win the match 2-0.

Pulis wants another top 10 finish

Gary Megson, new assistant boss at West Brom, says that Tony Pulis wants to improve on last season's 10th placed finish.

The Premier League starts again this weekend and one of the key changes at the Hawthorns has seen Megson, former Baggies manager, returning to the club as Pulis's assistant.

The two have known each other since their playing days and Megson says that he will act almost as a caddie for Pulis, advising but letting the West Brom boss make all the decisions.

He was in charge of the club between 2000 and 2004 getting the Baggies promoted to the Premier League for the first time but hasn't worked in management since his time in charge at Sheffield Wednesday which ended in 2012.

He said it was the prospect of working with Pulis which prompted his return and the pair are ambitious ahead of the new campaign which sees West Brom start up at home to Bournemouth.

They are 7/5 to kick off with a win, Eddie Howe's side are 2/1 with the draw priced at 11/5.

Megson says that while the initial aim is to stay up, they want to build on last season's top half finish.

He told local radio: "Tony wants to move it on from 10th but we need players and better players than we have got at the moment – and we have got very good players so it's not easy.

"Tony knows the players he wants and I have seen the list. There are five of them, so if we can get them it will be exciting times."

The Baggies are 9/4 to finish in the top half again this season while they are 6/1 to be relegated.

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Howe upbeat over Defoe injury

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe remains hopeful summer signing Jermain Defoe will be fit to feature in their Premier League opener against West Brom.

The 34-year-old England striker missed the pre-season friendly against Napoli at the weekend due to a groin problem, but Howe expects Defoe to be available to face the Baggies on Saturday afternoon.

He told the Daily Echo: "Jermain just felt some tightness in his groin after the Valencia game. He hasn't trained since, but we are confident he will be fit for West Brom."

Defoe scored 15 goals for Sunderland in each of the last two Premier League seasons and is 4/7 to be top goalscorer in the top-flight for the Cherries this term, with Joshua King priced at 5/2 and Callum Wilson 7/1.

Meanwhile, Jordon Ibe is determined to improve on a poor first season at Dean Court, with the former Liverpool winger having failed to score in 23 appearances for Bournemouth last term, following his £15million arrival from Liverpool.

He told The Sun: "Last season I was poor and didn't even get a goal. It's time for me to buck up my ideas, because I want to help the team and get some goals.

"I know Eddie Howe put a lot of trust in bringing me here for that price tag. I have a lot to prove to this club and, hopefully, I can be ten times better than last season.

"I don't know why it's happened. I don't really have an answer for that, I just know it wasn't as good as it should have been."

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Howe: Gradel is part of our plans

Max Gradel can still play an integral role in the Bournemouth side, according to Cherries boss Eddie Howe, who expects Lewis Grabban and Marc Wilson to leave the club.

Toulouse failed with a bid to sign Gradel earlier this month and Howe sees the Ivorian as being a vital part of his squad.

He said: "I think this club [Toulouse] is interested to take Max but at this moment in time he is very much part of our plans. His attitude has been so good that we would be very reluctant to lose him.

"He has had a good pre-season so far, he has shown he is back to his best. He has been really sharp and really impressive."

Gradel joined Bournemouth in a £7million move from St Etienne in August 2015 but his time on the south coast has been blighted by injuries.

Meanwhile, Howe has explained why Grabban and Wilson have not been handed squad numbers for the 2017/18 campaign.

Both players have been linked with Sunderland, and Howe said of the duo: "I think there is a good chance both players may look to leave the football club in this window.

"Obviously, I have to make some difficult choices and work with the players I feel are going to participate during our season. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to make some tough calls."

Bournemouth, 9/4 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table in 2017/18, are 12/5 to beat West Brom on the opening weekend of the campaign.

Wilson won’t be rushed

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has admitted that he is unsure when Callum Wilson will be able to return to first-team action.

The striker has suffered two serious injuries in the last two years, rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in February, just 15 months after he had sustained the same injury to his right knee.

He missed almost all of the 2015/16 campaign and had scored six goals in 21 appearances last season before sustaining the second serious injury.

He has been involved in the Cherries' pre-season training camp in southern Spain, but Howe said: "Callum is making good progress but is nowhere near training with the rest of the group yet.

"He is still training on his own but it was really beneficial for him, psychologically, to come away on the trip.

"He has progressed to working on the grass and is kicking a ball again. They are great signs for him and us so he is definitely moving in the right direction.

"When you consider what Callum has been through in terms of the first and second injuries he suffered, as you would understand, we are very reluctant to put any pressure on him.

"He still has some big hurdles to come but he is certainly moving in the right direction and it is great to see."

Bournemouth are 6/1 to be relegated in the 2017/18 season and 12/5 to beat West Brom on 12th August.

Howe hopes for no shocks

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has intimated that he will strengthen his squad this summer but insists continuity is important.

The Cherries are being linked with summer swoops for Chelsea duo Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake although Howe is keeping his cards close to his chest.

Former Stoke City goalkeeper Begovic has had limited opportunities to impress at Stamford Bridge because of the form of Thibaut Courtois while Ake enjoyed a successful loan spell on the south coast earlier this season.

Begovic was close to moving to Bournemouth in January and would cost the Cherries around £12million.

Chelsea recalled Dutch defender Ake in January but he has made only one Premier League start – on Monday in the 4-3 win against Watford – and one substitute appearance in the top-flight in the second half of the season.

Speaking ahead of Bournemouth's final Premier League game of the season on Sunday against Leicester City, Howe said: "Continuity's important. I think players need time to learn our philosophy but we want to keep the group together and add to it.

"It's difficult to predict any transfer window. Things can surprise you, but hopefully there will be no negative surprises.

"The first year in the Premier League was tough. This season has been harder, the players deserve a lot of credit.

"It's been a good season to this point but we want to finish the season strong. The players haven't switched off at all."

Bournemouth have won three of their last four games and will finish in the top half of the table if they beat the Foxes on Sunday.

The Cherries are 9/2 to keep a clean sheet at Leicester while they are 25/1 to beat the 2015/16 Premier League champions 2-0 and 13/2 to draw the match 1-1.

Howe expects King to stay put

Bournemouth head coach Eddie Howe is confident that star striker Josh King will still be a Cherries player come the start of next season.

King netted a late winner in a 2-1 home victory over Burnley which put the men from the South Coast on course for a finish in the top half of the Premier League, with just one match left to play.

The Norway international took his league tally this season to 16 goals, with 13 of those strikes having come since the turn of the year, including a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against West Ham in mid-March.

That form has raised speculation about a possible summer move, but Howe is not too concerned about that possibility.

He told reporters: "Josh King has been excellent. Every team needs a goalscorer and someone to lead the line, there is more to come from him too.

"Will we lose him in the summer? I don't think so. We love working with him, hopefully he feels the same. We need to keep our best players and we will do everything in our power to do that."

Meanwhile, King himself is eager to back up his fine campaign with another in the top-flight next season, adding: "I have been building my confidence. Once you start scoring, it builds.

"This is my first season where I have scored like this. Next year I need to prove myself and do it again, I can't wait for next season to start.

"Being noticed by other clubs is positive, but my focus is 100 per cent here."

The Cherries are 10/3 to win their final game of the season at Leicester City next Sunday, with a draw priced at 5/2 and a win for the hosts available at 5/6.

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No Cherries return for Wilshere

Eddie Howe has confirmed that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will not be returning to Bournemouth next season.

The 25-year-old England international had been on a season-long loan with the Cherries but suffered a fractured leg last month during the 4-0 defeat to Tottenham.

Wilshere made 29 Premier League appearances for Bournemouth after joining them on transfer deadline day almost nine months ago.

Howe said in the build-up to his side's home game against Burnley on Saturday: "It was really nice to have Jack here for a period. We wish him well for the future.

"We've started processes to identify players for next season. But in terms of names, positions etc, I won't be saying anything further."

Of Saturday's opponents, Howe added: "I think Burnley have been very good this season, they're determined and have a never-say-die attitude.

"I've been very impressed by Sean Dyche. He's done a superb job and I have a fondness for Burnley, I hope they do very well."

Bournemouth are 11th in the Premier League and are 2/1 to finish in the top half of the table while they are 9/1 to beat the Clarets 2-0 and 13/2 to draw 1-1 with Dyche's side.