(Reuters) - Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is looking forward to Sunday’s Premier League clash with Southampton and is confident his team can secure local bragging rights by sealing a second consecutive home win over their south coast rivals.
Bournemouth won promotion to the top flight in 2015, and the team with the league’s smallest ground are comfortably placed at 10th in the table following their 1-0 win over champions Leicester City on Tuesday.
Visitors Southampton are tied on 21 points with Howe’s team and a place above them in the standings thanks to a superior goal difference, but will be mindful they lost their last trip to Dean Court (now the Vitality Stadium) 2-0.
The two south coast clubs are geographical neighbours, but have faced each other four times in league action since 1961, meaning an intense rivalry, of the sort enjoyed by Southampton and Portsmouth, has not developed.
“It is a new thing, we have not been in the Premier League very long and sometimes it takes a bit of time to form those connections,” Howe told a news conference on Friday.
”The more games we play against Southampton the more the rivalry will grow. It’s something we’re looking forward to.
“We know the importance of this game for the supporters and everyone at the club, but also to our league position, which means everything to us and we are looking to enhance that.”
Howe said his team had emerged from Tuesday’s win with no new injuries, as striker Callum Wilson had been cleared to play after being checked for concussion and midfielder Ryan Fraser (ankle), who missed the Leicester game, is the only doubt.
The manager added that he anticipated a quiet January transfer window unless an unexpected injury forced him into the market and backed his current squad to go on a winning run.
Victory over Southampton would give Howe his first back-to-back league wins of the season.
“Providing we don’t have any major setbacks, I don’t see January being a major month for us -- we may look at one or two things,” he said.
“If you put three or four results together it can transform a season. That’s what we’re aiming for, but it’s a competitive league.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis