BOSS Eddie Howe hopes Nathan Ake will not be recalled by Chelsea after he again impressed as Cherries went down 3-1 at home to Southampton yesterday.

Ake scored a delightful diving header from a pin-point Jack Wilshere cross to open the scoring after five minutes.

But Saints hit back with a Ryan Bertrand strike and a second-half Jay Rodriguez double to claim south coast supremacy.

On a difficult day for Cherries, Howe was impressed with Ake’s impact at both ends of the pitch.

He admits the 21-year-old’s parent club Chelsea have the option to take him back to Stamford Bridge in January, but he is hopeful the Dutchman will be allowed to continue his impressive form for Cherries.

Howe said: “I thought he was excellent. He scored a great goal and I thought he defended really well.

“I thought his positioning was excellent. He used the ball well. So I think he can be very pleased with his day’s work.

“There is a clause where they (Chelsea) can recall him. I hope the fact he’s playing and playing very well for us will mean that he will stay, but we will see.”

Howe admitted his side did not make life easy for themselves by affording Saints too much of the ball following an intense recent run of matches, which saw them lose 3-2 at Burnley on December 10 and beat champions Leicester 1-0 on Tuesday.

He said: “In what’s the third match in a sequence of three games in eight days, you desperately need to keep the ball to save your legs. We did the opposite.

“We turned the ball over and it meant the game was stretched and we had further to cover. Certainly, I think that had a knock-on effect on us physically.”

Howe added: “It was a very disappointing day for us. Southampton deserved to win, I thought they were the better team.

“We weren’t at our best physically at all. I thought they looked sharper than us. We struggled to put pressure on the ball, which is really unlike us, especially here.

“Physically, right from the start, we didn’t look quite right.

“We have to look at ourselves. I just don’t think we got into our rhythm with the ball, which meant we weren’t very good without it either.”

Howe refused to blame the hectic schedule and having a smaller squad than his rivals for the result.

He said: “I don’t think I can look on that as an excuse.

“It’s up to me to identify the players I think can play that amount of time in eight days. But, for whatever reason, we didn’t do it very well.”

Howe was also left to mull over Cherries conceding three goals for the fourth time in five games.

He said: “Although we didn’t play very well, they didn’t have many outstanding chances and we conceded three again. The games are of similar ilk – the Arsenal and Liverpool games – in the sense our goalkeeper has not been over-worked. It’s something we will have to look at.”