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AFC Bournemouth: No pressure on Cherries - boss Eddie Howe
A fruitful March, which yielded six wins and a draw from eight games, propelled Cherries to 10th – just five points shy of the top six.
And while the outcome of their next two games is likely to go a long way to deciding their fate, Howe insists Cherries would have readily taken this scenario at the start of the season.
Cherries host third-placed QPR in a sell-out at Dean Court tomorrow (3pm) before play-off hopefuls Reading head to Dorset on Tuesday.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “I think we have to prepare to win every game. Whether or not we have to, who knows? Potentially, we may.
“I don’t think we have anything to lose considering from where we have come because nobody would have expected us to be in this position with seven games remaining.
“We can really look forward to these games and, hopefully, give the best account of ourselves and see where it takes us.
“With the games we have to come and the opposition we have to play, we certainly have a huge task ahead of us.
"The advantage we have is that the majority of the games are at home and, with our supporters really pushing us, hopefully we can surpass the recent performance levels.”
Since losing 3-0 at Loftus Road in early December, Cherries have won 10 and drawn six of their 21 league games, a run which has seen them move to within sight of the chasing pack in their first season back in the second flight since 1990.
Howe said: “I saw the QPR game as pivotal because we changed system that night and went to 4-3-3. In our next game, we went to Reading and won 2-1. At that stage, it gave us confidence and control in games and enabled us to build our belief.
“Even though we may not have always got the results our performances have deserved, the players have started to see what a good team we can be.
"Although we have tinkered and played different ways, the belief is there that we can compete at this level and that has been reflected in our performances.”
Discussing QPR, Howe added: “They were favourites for the title and their start made that even stronger because they won games consistently. But they have lost some key players and it is not easy when that happens no matter how much money you have got.
"I still think they will be there or thereabouts and there are some twists and turns to come. I don’t think the top two is out of their reach.”
Howe had no fresh injuries to report and said he expected striker Tokelo Rantie to return to England in time to keep his place in the squad after he had headed back to South Africa for the birth of his son on Tuesday.
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