BOSS Eddie Howe believes Cherries will face genuine promotion contenders in Doncaster Rovers but he insists: “We certainly don't fear anybody.”
Howe is backing Rovers to feature at the business end of the League One table this term as they aim to bounce straight back to the Championship.
Prior to defeat at the hands of Crewe on Tuesday, Rovers had surged towards the summit on the back of a seven-match unbeaten sequence.
Relegated after four years in the Championship, former Wales international Dean Saunders is trying to mastermind Rovers' second tier return.
Cherries visit Doncaster in fine form themselves, having gone six matches without defeat since Howe's appointment. That run has propelled the Dorset outfit to within six points of the final play-off berth, which is currently held by Rovers.
Previewing Saturday's clash at the Keepmoat Stadium (3pm), Howe predicted a “really tough game”. He told the Daily Echo: “I think they are a much-changed side from last season in terms of their personnel. Dean Saunders has done a great job to regroup and get together a squad that is going to push at the other end of the table.
“They are a very good football team and they certainly like to play from back to front and all through the thirds of the pitch, so full credit to them and the job they have done.
“It will probably be one of our toughest examinations. I think they will be up there at the end of the season. They have still got a couple of Championship players who have been there and done it at the higher level, so that will help them in terms of their experience and trying to maintain their challenge.
“But it goes without saying that we certainly don't fear anybody at the moment and we are looking forward to every game.”
Howe reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Doncaster and said he was unsure whether Wes Thomas (hamstring) would be fit in time to feature.
Meanwhile, Howe revealed Richard Hughes had today joined in with training for the first time since sustaining a hamstring problem last month.
Rovers: (from) G Woods, Quinn, Jones, Spurr, Husband, Syers, Keegan, Harper, Martin Woods, Hume, Paynter, Blake, Brown, Griffin, Martis, Michael Woods, Clingan, Cotterill, Sullivan.
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