Eddie Howe: Southampton vs Bournemouth a 'really feisty game'

Bournemouth's rivalry with Southampton intensifying, says Cherries boss Howe; watch the game live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Friday; kick-off 8pm

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Eddie Howe feels Bournemouth's south coast rivalry with Southampton is 'gaining in everybody's focus'

Eddie Howe says Bournemouth's Friday Night Football trip to Southampton live on Sky Sports should be a "really feisty game".

The south coast clubs played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at St Mary's at the end of last season - the eighth meeting between the sides in four years - and Howe believes the rivalry will continue to intensify with more fixtures.

Southampton meet traditional rivals Portsmouth in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday - also live on Sky Sports - but Howe feels Bournemouth's games against the Saints are "gaining in everybody's focus".

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"It should be a really feisty game, a really good atmosphere and an entertaining match," Bournemouth boss Howe told Sky Sports. "Southampton have started very well, too.

"It's gaining in everybody's focus. The more games we have, the more the rivalry will intensify I think.

"We've enjoyed the games against Southampton which have been tight and tough, from both clubs' perspectives. We're looking forward to another entertaining match."

Bournemouth, historically, have always operated with fewer resources than Southampton - in terms of training, stadium and academy facilities - due to playing in lower divisions in front of smaller crowds.

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The Cherries, however, are now enjoying their fifth season in the top flight and have begun work on a new multi-million-pound training complex, which Howe thinks will allow them to compete with the Saints off the field.

Dan Gosling celebrates his goal with team-mate Jack Simpson
Image: Dan Gosling scored in the six-goal thriller when the sides last met

"Southampton have traditionally always produced their own players, their academy has always been so important to them, you see the amount of players they bring through," Howe added.

"That's something we're trying to improve on - and of course the infrastructure here - the training ground, the stadium.

"We definitely want to improve on them and get closer to their level."

It is still early days in the Premier League, but playing first on Friday night means a win for Bournemouth will take them up to third in the table.

"It's a huge incentive going into this game," Howe admitted. "We're looking for back-to-back wins in the Premier League, which is a very difficult thing to do."

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Highlights from Bournemouth's 3-1 win over Everton in the Premier League

The Cherries were boosted by the return of Lewis Cook last time out, the midfielder helping to inspire them to a 3-1 victory over Everton.

Cook impressed in what was his first game since December 2018 and Howe believes the England international could regain his spot in Gareth Southgate's squad after putting his injury worries behind him.

"He's a very important player, someone we really like as a player and a person all the way through his rehab," he added. "From this injury he was very focused and driven to get back to his very best.

Southampton Bournemouth composite
Image: Watch Southampton vs Bournemouth live on Friday Night Football

"When you see someone with that mindset you only want good for them and Sunday was a really nice moment for him. He's come back in really good shape and I'm delighted for him.

"Before injury he was right amongst the England squad, he's very-highly thought of and if he stays fit then he has every chance of competing In the England squad over the next year."

Simon Francis and Lloyd Kelly, meanwhile, may return from injury on Friday after featuring for the U21 side on Tuesday.

Howe also confirmed that Friday's match will come too soon for Arnaut Danjuma, David Brooks and Dan Gosling.

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