CHERRIES manager Eddie Howe says he would happily start the season with his existing squad and admits any further signings could be unlikely before the big kick-off.
Howe saw Cherries round off their pre-season friendly campaign with a 4-1 win at Oxford on Saturday where new recruits Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas were both on target.
Wilson, who plundered his first career hat-trick at the Kassam, joined Cherries from Coventry for a fee in excess of £2million, the only money spent by Howe over the summer.
Howe, who saw Lewis Grabban leave for Norwich, also drafted in Stanislas from former club Burnley and Dan Gosling from Newcastle, the pair both signed on free transfers.
And while Howe has said he would like one or two more quality additions, it is possible any further business may have to wait until after Cherries’ Championship curtain-raiser at Huddersfield.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo, Howe, who never comments publicly on his targets, said: “I have said we are looking to improve certain aspects of our squad but it is very difficult with the quality of players we have. I think people could see from the two teams we picked against Swansea and Oxford that we are strong.
“I would be happy to start the season with the squad we have. It is near enough the same as the one we had which performed so well at the end of last season. We have lost Lewis Grabban and Andrew Surman but have added three players in return so I think the squad looks in good shape.”
Asked whether he could bolster his numbers this week, Howe replied: “I wouldn’t rule out anything but I wouldn’t be in a position now to say yes for definite. The deals we are looking at aren’t really in our hands so I would probably go more negatively than positively on that one but we will have to see.”
Victory over Oxford was Cherries’ fifth of a fruitful pre-season campaign which saw Howe’s men suffer only one defeat – against Southampton – and draw with FC Copenhagen.
Howe said: “I think it has been a successful pre-season. The players came back fit which gave us a real head start in terms of the work we could get into them.
“I think we have impressed in the games and have scored a lot of goals and looked tight at the back. We have had some injuries along the way, as with most pre-seasons, but, touch wood, there is nothing serious. Hopefully, we can go into the season with almost a clean bill of health.”
Cherries: Buchel, Smith, Cook, Muleba, Daniels, Fraser (Wakefield, 73), Gosling (Carmichael, 85), Stanislas (Walsh, 73), McQuoid, Kermorgant, Wilson (Bassele, 89).
Oxford: G Long, Meades (Ruffels, 65), Newey, Raynes, Rose, Hylton (O’Dowda, 65), Potter (Shama, 75), Hunt, Collins, Riley (S Long, 55), Brown (Roberts, 65).
Referee: Graham Scott (England).
Attendance: 1,165 (inc 124 away fans).