Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil is confident his side are strong enough to avoid relegation.
The Cherries were one of the busiest Premier League clubs in January with six new players and they followed up a lively display at Brighton last weekend with a 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle on Saturday.
Although the point didn’t get them out of the bottom three, O’Neil is delighted with the group at his disposal and is positive about the future, with the likes of Lloyd Kelly, Illia Zabarnyi, Lewis Cook and David Brooks forming the are almost fully fit.
“It’s been tough for the group at times because we’ve been a bit short on injuries and we’ve had some tough results as a result,” O’Neil said.
“We have a group that is much, much stronger now. We still have key players like Brooksy, Lew, Lloyd and Illia coming back so we are missing four strong players but the squad is in good shape.
“You shouldn’t think too much about it when you’re going through a tough time, but we’re missing a lot of good players. I had to name three youngsters on the bench in the last few weeks so things were very different (against Newcastle) .
“The bank was very strong and could influence things. I found the subs had a really positive impact.
Dango Ouattara and Hamed Traoré, who arrived respectively from Lorient and Sassuolo last month, again made good impressions and participated in the opener for Marcos Senesi.
After watching his side go without a Premier League victory in Game 7, O’Neil was keen to play down expectations of the young duo.
He insisted: “It is important that we remain calm on this front as well.
“Dango Ouattara is 21, played in France and didn’t play much in the first team. It’s going incredibly well, but there’s still a lot of improvement and work to be done.
“I found Hamed Traore very good and in better shape after a week of good work, so yes, positive things, but there is still a lot of work to do with the new guys to help them adapt and understand .
“Talking to them, the intensity of the league and even the intensity of training has been a big change for them, so we’re trying to help them with that and help them improve.”
Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has backed his former club to stay at the top after making life difficult for his Champions League pursuit side Newcastle.
“I’m really happy the club is doing well and is back in the Premier League. Hopefully it will continue to go from strength to strength,” Howe added.
“I know the power of the home pitch and what that pitch can do when I come here.
“I’ve benefited from that many times, so I think home form will be absolutely crucial, but I really think they’ve got the players and the manager to stay up there.”
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