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AFC Bournemouth: Howe targets run in League Cup
Howe will be looking to lead Cherries into the third round for only the ninth time in their history when they face Watford tomorrow (7.45pm).
The second round tie comes just 17 days after Cherries were on the receiving end of a 6-1 beating by the Hornets at Vicarage Road.
Howe made a host of changes for Cherries’ first round win over Portsmouth earlier this month, as did Watford boss Gianfranco Zola for their victory at Bristol Rovers.
“It is a totally different game and a difficult game to prepare for,” said Howe. “We are not sure what team Watford will play and they won’t know what team we are going to play either.
“It is a difficult draw for us but we will try to give a good account of ourselves. As we have seen already this season, Watford are a top side.
“The first game was a really high quality match between two very technical football teams and I am sure this one will be no different. We are looking forward to going back and, hopefully, the result will be different this time.
“It would be nice to reach the third round. I am not going to make any secret of the fact the league is our biggest priority this season but this is still a competition we would like to do well in and we would like to progress as far as we can.
“Our record in the League Cup is not great but we would love to progress because, as other clubs have shown down the years, you never know what can happen once you win a few games. That will be the aim but it will be tough.”
Cherries have been paired against Watford three times previously in the League Cup and have met them on no fewer than six occasions in the competition.
A first round tie in 1967-68 went to a second replay at Swindon’s County Ground after the teams had battled out a 1-1 draw at Dean Court and a 0-0 stalemate at Vicarage Road - with Watford eventually prevailing 2-1.
The Hornets won a dramatic penalty shootout 6-5 at Dean Court after two second round clashes had ended 1-1 in 1995-96, while Cherries went down 1-0 at Vicarage Road in August 2003.
Cherries last reached the third round in 2004-05 when Howe netted the winning penalty in a dramatic shootout against Premier League Blackburn. They bowed out on penalties at the third hurdle to Cardiff.
Midfielder Eunan O’Kane is expected to be ruled out against the Hornets after turning his ankle during Cherries’ defeat at Huddersfield.
O’Kane, the goal hero of Cherries’ first round win over Portsmouth, was a half-time substitute at the John Smith’s Stadium but was forced off just 17 minutes later.
The Irishman was tonight due to have a scan to ascertain the full extent of the injury, although Howe –speaking at lunchtime – said the early indications were that it was “not too serious”.
Defender Elliott Ward returns to the Cherries squad after missing the Huddersfield match to be with wife Sarah who gave birth to their son Henry yesterday, while Mohamed Coulibaly is also back after recovering from an Achilles problem.
Cherries: Allsop, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Fraser, Arter, MacDonald, Surman, Pitman, Grabban, Daniels, Pugh, Thomas, Hughes, Addison, Ward, Stockley, McDermott, Coulibaly, Flahavan.
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