February 23, 2018 / 11:16 AM / 10 months ago

Defoe's return a lift for Bournemouth, says Howe

(Reuters) - Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes striker Jermain Defoe’s return to fitness has given everyone in the squad a lift ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United.

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs AFC Bournemouth - John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain - February 11, 2018 Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe before the match . REUTERS/Andrew Yates

The 35-year-old Defoe, who has scored three league goals this season, returned to first-team training this week after suffering an ankle injury in December.

“It is a big lift for everyone to get Jermain back,” Howe told a news conference on Friday.

“He is a natural goalscorer. Anyone that has scored the goals he has in his career, naturally it is going to give the squad a lift to see him back with us.

“Will he be in the 18 against Newcastle? You’ll find out tomorrow.”

Bournemouth lost 4-1 at Huddersfield Town in their last league match, ending their nine-match unbeaten run in the competition.

Despite sitting 10th in the standings, Howe said his squad has no room for complacency with 11 matches remaining this season.

“Although the league table looks good in terms of position, the gap of points between us and the teams beneath us is not big and there are a host of teams tightly congested together,” he added.

“We have a lot of work to do and I am under no illusions that we have to deliver.”

Newcastle are three points behind Bournemouth in 13th spot having secured a 1-0 win over Manchester United in their last league game.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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