SIMON Francis insists Cherries can handle the heat of 12 dates with destiny despite a third straight setback on home soil.

The stand-in skipper shifted across to his more familiar role of right-back as much-changed Cherries exited the FA Cup with a 2-0 defeat to Everton on Saturday.

Eddie Howe’s men more than played their part in a frenetic fifth-round tie but after Charlie Daniels had seen his first-half penalty saved by Joel Robles, succumbed to a deflected strike from Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku’s sweeping finish.

The result followed Premier League reverses against Arsenal and Stoke but Francis reckons the four-point cushion 15th-placed Cherries have over the bottom three is enough reason to remain calm.

Francis told the Daily Echo: “We have been in these situations before when we have had to fight for promotion. I think that’s as much of a pressure situation as this is.

“I would probably be saying something different if we were in the bottom three or falling adrift but at the moment, we have got ourselves into a comfortable position.

“We have teams trying to catch us but I think that is a good position to be in. We have players coming back to fitness with Max Gradel and Callum Wilson not too far away to boost our push.

“All it takes in one good result and we’re back to looking up again rather than behind us.”

Assessing the match, Francis felt the Cherries players that had not been involved in top-flight action had put on a strong performance and rued the fortune involved in Everton’s breakthrough.

“It has been the story of our past few games to be honest,” he said.

“Goals change games, that’s a no brainer, but to concede from a deflection having defended so well in the first half was hard to take.

“We believe in ourselves. We have had setbacks in every division I have played in for this club and lost games without letting it affect us.

“It is even tougher now we are in the Premier League but I felt we showed a lot of quality and confidence against Everton, especially the lads who have not been in the team.

“That is a good sign for the coming weeks and it is a huge game against Watford. Our focus is on the Premier League now and we have to bounce back.”