SKIPPER Tommy Elphick has tasked Cherries with launching another stern rearguard action as they prepare to face two of the Championship’s most in-form strikers at Derby tomorrow.
Loan star Patrick Bamford and Chris Martin are likely to figure in the Rams line-up at Pride Park and skipper Elphick is well-aware of the significant threat the duo carry.
Youngster Bamford has registered five goals in seven appearances since joining from Chelsea in early-January, while Martin already has 17 goals under his belt this campaign.
Eddie Howe’s men kept the Championship’s top strike partnership – Danny Ings and Sam Vokes – off the scoresheet in the 1-1 home draw with Burnley on Saturday and Elphick is keen to go one step further this time and secure a clean sheet against the Championship’s most prolific side, who average nearly two goals a game.
He told the Daily Echo: “Each week throws up another stat and Derby have scored the most goals in the league, so we’re going to have our work cut out.
“Bamford set League One alight in the first half of the season (at MK Dons), Derby acquired him quite early and he seems to be repaying that faith.
“He’s a young lad who’s got a great future ahead of him.
“Chris Martin gives them a massive platform to build on, but they get goals from all over the pitch and score from set pieces as well.
“It’s going to be 90 minutes full of concentration and everyone is going to have to defend well.
“We’ve done a lot of work this week, the gaffer’s drilled us quite a bit and we’ll be fully-prepared and will know what to expect.”
Saturday’s draw against Burnley saw Cherries punished for one defensive slip and although generally pleased with that display, Elphick has urged the backline to up their game as his team aim to secure shutouts.
He said: “We’ve been defending really well recently without putting a clean sheet on the board, so it’s a little bit frustrating for us.
“It’s a shame because we’re doing so much work to get in front and stay in games. We need to convert these 1-1s and 2-2s into wins and you are only going to do that by keeping clean sheets.
“We’ve got some great defenders and we need to start keeping clean sheets to climb the table.”