CHERRIES welcome Eddie Howe back to Vitality Stadium as his Newcastle United team are in town for a Premier League clash in front of the television cameras.

It has been an up-down few weeks for Cherries and Andoni Iraola, who recorded a first Premier League win against Burnley to start November, before a spirited defeat to Liverpool in the EFL Cup was followed by a tonking away at Manchester City.

Newcastle have up to nine players injured and a further two suspended, making predicting their team a tall ask.

Luckily, we are here to take a guess at Cherries starting XI for this evening’s game.


Bournemouth Echo: Neto is back in contention

Andoni Iraola has gone from barebones in the goalkeeping department to having too many shot stoppers available to him.

Skipper Neto is back ahead of schedule from an ankle injury, training with the team this week. Darren Randolph has also returned to training, leaving Iraola with four pairs of safe hands to potentially tend net.

For the visit of Burnley two weekends ago, there was a clear starter in between the sticks, with Iraola telling press 24 hours before kick-off Andrei Radu would be starting.

That made sense – the only other goalkeeper available was Mark Travers, who had been recalled from his loan spell at Championship outfit Stoke City, and was yet to have trained with Cherries.

There was another straightforward decision to be made for the EFL Cup tie with Liverpool in midweek, with Travers cup-tied.

Cam Plain was eligible to sit on the bench, but Radu had started the previous two games in the competition.

Some fans would have liked to have seen Travers start away at Manchester City, but instead it was Radu who was tasked with facing the deluge of shots from the reigning European champions.

Whilst Cherries shipped nine goals in the past three fixtures, it would be harsh to say Radu played poorly, or deserves to be dropped.

Conversely, Radu did little to prove why he should start over Neto.

There have been questions over Neto after a few iffy moments this season, but if he is fit to start, it is hard to see Iraola looking past the captain.


Bournemouth Echo: Lloyd Kelly has captained Cherries in Neto and Adam Smith's absence

Lloyd Kelly has played well despite all of the noise surrounding his future at the club.

If he does depart the club at the expiry of his contract come the end of the season, as seems likely, Cherries will still receive a strong baseline of performances from their former skipper.

Chris Mepham was hooked during the defeat to Manchester City, and with Cherries probably reverting back to a four-man defence, it seems that one of the Welshman and Illia Zabarnyi will drop out of the team.

We’re guessing that Iraola will stick with Zabarnyi, the Ukrainian having played all 990 minutes of Cherries’ campaign so far.

Iraola and Howe’s approach to the game means we are likely in for an end-to-end spectacle at Dean Court this evening.

As such, the running of Max Aarons and Milos Kerkez could prove to be key to any hopes of Cherries picking up three points.

Adam Smith is approaching 350 games for Cherries, and whilst it would not be unlikely to see the veteran brought on to help see the game out, Aarons’ more than adequate performance at right-back against Manchester City last time out enough to cement his starting spot.

Midfield and attack

Bournemouth Echo:

Cherries’ midfield has been subject to change throughout the campaign, with only Philip Billing and Ryan Christie the only near-certainties.

That is largely due to the unavailability of others, with Lewis Cook, Alex Scott, and Tyler Adams all suffering injuries of varying severity.

After becoming a fixture in the starting XI, Cook’s dismissal against Wolves and subsequent three-match ban did not help matters.

But just as Cook returns from injury to provide another option, Scott’s knee injury sustained at Manchester City reduces Iraola’s choices.

As such, the midfield almost picks itself, with Cook coming back to form a trio with Christie and Billing.

There is the argument to include Joe Rothwell, who has performed when called upon, but the fact Cook is a more natural six makes him a likelier pick.

Dominic Solanke will start up top for Cherries when he is fit. There is no concern over his availability this weekend, so that is one certainty.

As ever, the wings prove tricky to properly pin down. Antoine Semenyo has looked bright whenever he has played this term, but that has not been enough for the Ghanaian international to keep his spot week-to-week.

Luis Sinisterra scored away at the Etihad off the bench last time out, but the Colombian has frequently been overlooked despite the lengths Cherries went to in order to bring him on loan on deadline

Marcus Tavernier has been the most consistent selection since his return from injury, his pedigree proven from his contributions to last season’s survival campaign.

He is yet to hit the same heights this term, but the former Middlesbrough man has the ability to produce a bit of magic.

Predicted XI: Neto; Aarons, Zabarnyi, Kelly, Kerkez; Cook, Billing, Christie; Tavernier, Semenyo, Solanke.

Pictures: Richard Crease