(Reuters) - Bournemouth must restrict Southampton forward Charlie Austin during Saturday’s Premier League clash at the St Mary’s stadium if they are to return to winnings ways, the visiting team’s manager Eddie Howe has said.
Austin, 28, is Southampton’s top scorer this season despite missing several matches due to a hamstring injury. He has scored seven goals in 20 league appearances for the 18th-placed club, who have four matches remaining to escape relegation.
“Charlie (Austin) is a talented player and goalscorer and someone we’ll have to be well prepared for,” Howe told a news conference on Friday.
“Southampton are a very talented group of players and they have quality in all areas. They can give you a really difficult game and we’re aware of that.
“We came very close to beating them (Southampton) there last year... We’re taking some really good away support and I know they’ll be vocal.”
Bournemouth are 11th in the league and enter the south coast derby after consecutive defeats by Manchester United and Liverpool.
Howe has urged his team to beat Southampton and cross the 40-point mark as they target surpassing last year’s record points tally of 46.
“Until it’s done, it’s not done. You can have the cushion of the points, but that can be a dangerous thing psychologically,” Howe added.
“We’ve still got to get over the line. We’ve got a big game ahead of us and that’s a big motivation for us.
“Beating last year’s target is a motivation for us and we’ll be very keen to win the last three games and we’re very capable of it.”
The two sides have drawn their last two league meetings and Southampton have never lost at home to Bournemouth.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly