SIMON Francis said Cherries would take the challenge of avoiding Premier League relegation “head on” and added: “Nobody wants that on their CV.”

Only Joshua King and Steve Cook have played more times for Cherries in the top flight than club captain Francis, who helped guide Eddie Howe’s men from League One to England’s elite level.

The defender is set to lead Cherries in a crucial top-flight basement battle at Norwich tomorrow (3pm), knowing a win could take them out of the drop-zone this weekend.

Asked whether the threat of relegation was talked about in the dressing room, the 34-year-old told the Daily Echo: “I don’t think it needs to be mentioned. Everyone can see it clearly in the table.

“The lads know the situation we are in.

“It’s a new challenge for us, one we are going to take head on. We are going to need the fans with us.

“New lads that have signed here, lads that are on loan, nobody wants that (relegation) on their CV.

“Me more than anyone being captain of this football club, I don’t want to be relegated.

“I will stand up and be counted. If I make mistakes then fine, I’ll hold my hands up, but I am there to fight and so are the other lads that are on the pitch.

“We haven’t got a big squad now because of injuries but, as long as everyone shows fight and desire and willingness to get on the ball and play, then I can’t fault anyone’s attitude.

“As captain, I will motivate and lead the lads as best I can. Ultimately, I like to take my motivation from other players.

“I love it when I see lads on the pitch giving 100 per cent, putting in a tackle, having a shot, putting a ball in. That’s something that really motivates me and gets my fire going.”

Francis has featured 12 times in all competitions for Cherries this season.

He returned to action in September after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in December 2018.

“My biggest challenge was coming back from a serious knee injury. I have done that now and that’s put behind me,” he added.

“Now I am on to the next challenge of keeping this football team in the Premier League.

“Look, we’ve got enough quality, there’s no doubt about that. When I look at the teams in and around us, I’d take this squad over any of them.

“But we need something to drop for us, whether that’s the first goal in a game, the next win that’s going to come hopefully on Saturday, and then we can hopefully boost from there.”