MANAGER Eddie Howe predicts Cherries’ opening pre-season friendly will be a test of brain rather than brawn for his players.

Cherries kick-off their warm-up campaign against Portuguese top-flight outfit Estoril at the Marbella Football Centre tonight (6pm BST).

The match comes following a gruelling 10-day training camp in southern Spain where the players have been put through their paces, often working in intense heat.

Estoril, who were promoted into the Primeira Liga in 2012, were chosen as Cherries’ first opponents as Howe sees similarities between the teams’ respective styles of play.

They won the Segunda Liga under the guidance of Watford's former Hull boss Marco Silva and current manager Pedro Emanuel was part of Jose Mourinho's all-conquering Porto team.

Estoril are the first of three European clubs Cherries will meet during pre-season with Valencia and Napoli both visiting Vitality Stadium.

Previewing the clash for the Daily Echo, Howe said: “Whenever you play foreign teams, they give you a totally different test to what we will face in the Premier League and, at this stage of our pre-season, this is exactly what we want.

“We don’t expect it to be a physical game but I think it will be a very technical game from both teams. We are going to have to be very good with the ball.

“You are always aware that if you give up the ball cheaply against these types of teams, you don’t see it for a while.

“Testing our ability to keep the ball, especially in the heat, has been a real feature of this trip and was something we had planned for.

“The players have had to adapt to the demands we have placed on them physically and we knew the heat would be a real help to us at this stage of our pre-season.

“It will be interesting to see how they deal with that in a game format.”

Discussing the training camp in general, Howe added: “Pre-season has gone very well so far and I have been very pleased with how the players returned.

“The training has been intense and the players have done well. I have been pleased with the quality.

“The schedule of games looks good and I am excited to see the boys play a game to see how their training performances transfer on to the pitch. The signs have been very good so far.”

Howe confirmed new signing Jermain Defoe would not return to Spain having yesterday attended the funeral of Bradley Lowery in County Durham.

Adam Smith is unlikely to feature as he has been feeling discomfort in his quads, while Junior Stanislas will not be risked following groin surgery at the end of last season.

Emerson Hyndman is still recovering from the stress fracture to his foot he sustained at the end of his loan spell with Rangers and will not play, while a late decision will be made on Joshua King whose training has been restricted by a minor back complaint.