MANAGER Eddie Howe described as “a useful exercise” Cherries’ pre-season friendly against Southampton tonight.

Howe’s team were beaten for the first time during their warm-up campaign when Lloyd Isgrove netted the only goal in the first half.

Boss Howe again stepped up game time for a number of his squad with Dan Gosling and Eunan O’Kane replaced after 81 minutes while skipper Tommy Elphick became the first outfield player during pre-season to play 90 minutes.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “I thought it was a good game between two good sides. Our players looked a little leggy which I expected with the work we have done this week. We worked them very hard in preparation for this game and knew they would go into it slightly tired. But with the games we have coming up, we felt this would be our last week to get some fitness work into them.

“I was disappointed with some aspects of our play and pleased with other aspects so we have a bit of work to do but none of that surprises us.

“I think the lads look reasonably fit. We have a couple on the treatment table who we would like to get back. They are only minor injuries so we are confident they will be back sooner rather than later and I think that will make us look a lot stronger.

“You give players a platform and an opportunity to play and then the rest is up to them. With every game, you find out things and that is what I felt we did tonight. It was a useful exercise for us. We found out quite a bit about our team and what we need to improve on.”

Howe confirmed midfielder Shaun MacDonald had sat out due to a minor hip problem and said striker Tokelo Rantie would return to training on Monday. Yann Kermorgant had treatment after the game having taken a heavy blow to ankle during the first half.

Meanwhile, discussing goalkeeper Lee Camp’s continued absence, Howe said: “We are waiting to find out the exact extent of his injury. We don’t believe it to be a serious problem but it has niggled on for a couple of weeks longer than we had hoped. We will assess it and hopefully find out more after the weekend.”