CHERRIES skipper Simon Francis set his sights on finishing above rivals Southampton and admitted it would be 'special'.

The Dorset club are 11th in the Premier League, five points clear of the 16th-place Saints with 10 games remaining for both clubs.

And speaking ahead of tomorrow's trip to Leicester (3pm), Francis did not rule out a charge for seventh place, which could be enough to secure European football next season.

Francis said: "It would be special to finish above Southampton. Those bragging rights are important.

"Southampton are probably not too happy with the way they are doing at the moment but that's football.

"They have got a talented squad and I don’t expect them to be down there so if we can finish above them come the end of the season, we will be in a fantastic position.

"We are in a massive stage of the season now, fighting for a top-10 position and looking to improve on last season.

"We have to be looking up at the top 10 because I think it is anyone’s, even up to seventh because Burnley went on a fantastic run but have not won in 12 games.

"European football is a massive ask because the start we had to the season did not go as planned. But the run we were on prior to the past two games has put us in a fantastic position and rather than looking behind us, we have to look ahead.

"We have got some important games coming up which we can, hopefully, take maximum points from and improving on last season is our main aim.

"If we can keep improving every year, and that is what the manager wants to do, that would be special."

Cherries have taken seven points from their five Premier League contests against Leicester, sharing a 1-1 draw at King Power Stadium on the final day of last season.

Francis has started every clash with the Foxes in the top flight, being controversially sent off in the 0-0 away stalemate in January 2016.

He added: "We have never lost to Leicester in the Premier League and it would be nice to keep that going.

"They have been on a great run of late and the new manager has tried to change their style and they are trying to be a more possession-based team.

"It should be a good game and I am looking forward to going there. It is a nice pitch, a good atmosphere and is a game we want to win."

Cherries banked their only Premier League win over Leicester in December 2016, a first-half goal from Marc Pugh proving the difference between the sides at Vitality Stadium.

In the teams' first meeting at English football's top table in August 2015, the match ended in a 1-1 draw but long-term knee injuries suffered by Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel cast a shadow over the result.