BOSS Eddie Howe backed his Cherries players to cope with a demanding festive schedule and admitted: “This is where the squad will have its biggest impact.”

Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City kicked off an eight-game December with tomorrow’s Premier League fixture against Huddersfield Town followed by top-flight clashes with Liverpool, Wolves, Brighton, Tottenham and Manchester United.

The Dorset club will also contest a Carabao Cup quarter-final with Chelsea six days before Christmas.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “I don’t think it’s too many games – we want to play matches. It’s what we’re here to do.

“The Christmas period is part of what makes the English calendar unique and we embrace that and want to give our supporters as good a December as we can.

“I always enjoyed it as a player. I enjoyed the unique atmosphere the games gave you at that time of year.

“There was a different feel about them – more energy. They were great games to play in.

“This is where the squad will have its biggest impact. Adam Smith’s injury has stretched us a bit in terms of our defensive resources. There will be an opportunity for players to play.

“Jefferson Lerma’s suspension and Dan Gosling’s injury gave opportunities for players in midfield and I’m sure that will be the same in other positions.

“We have 22 senior professionals – how many more can you carry without the squad becoming heavy with players who aren’t involved?

“That naturally breeds a different kind of feeling and you don’t want that feeling to creep into the squad.

“I think it’s a good number.

“The difference between us and the majority of squads up and down the country is that the strength in depth with the players coming through – and this isn’t a criticism of anyone behind the first team – perhaps isn’t what it is at other clubs.

“That’s where sometimes our squad can look thinner.”

Howe admitted managing mental and physical fatigue would be a key part of his role over the coming weeks.

He said: “Since we’ve been in the Premier League, we’ve found there has been a change in the physical dynamics.

“In the Championship, you are used to going Saturday-Tuesday continually and the players adapt to that demand.

“Now it’s more week to week.

“Given how we play, the games are demanding for the players and we need to make sure they have fresh minds and bodies during this period.”

Cherries face a Huddersfield side which succumbed 2-1 at home to Brighton on Saturday having previously taken seven points out of a possible nine.

Discussing Terriers boss David Wagner, Howe said: “He’s done a very good job. He has maintained his positivity and has protected his philosophy and identity, which is the hallmark of a very good manager.

“They haven’t changed despite times where they have been told from the outside that they should – as we were when we were in a similar position.

“They have reaped the benefits of that.”