Pellegrino looks ahead to 'tough' fixture at Bournemouth in the Premier League this weekend

Pellegrino looks ahead to 'tough' fixture at Bournemouth in the Premier League this weekend

Southampton, following their narrow midweek defeat to Manchester City, make the very short journey west to fierce south coast rivals AFC Bournemouth.

Ryan White

Another local derby is on the horizon in the Premier League as Southampton travel to the Vitality Stadium this Sunday to face an AFC Bournemouth team lingering above the division's relegation zone, and Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino is looking forward to the challenging encounter with Eddie Howe

His team go into the match on the back of a heart-breaking defeat to top-flight table toppers Manchester City thanks to a winner from Raheem Sterling in the dying seconds, and ended in sour scenes with the highlighted incident between Pep Guardiola and Southampton player Nathan Redmond

However, despite this being the club's third game in eight days going into a hectic December football schedule, Pellegrino and his team will be high in confidence having put in a hard-fought performance at the Etihad, as well as cause a 4-1 rout over Everton on home turf last weekend. 

Saints set to miss crucial defender

The Southampton squad could be absent of Portuguese and influential full-back Cédric Soares after the defender sustained a minor knock during the outing at Manchester City on Wednesday, so is heavily likely to be watching from the stands for the short journey to Bournemouth. 

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pellegrino has confirmed he may be short of an attacking option with the injury Shane Long has picked up. 

The manager gave the latest team news in his pre-match conference, ''Cédric will not be ready for Sunday, and Shane Long has got an issue in his calf. So we've got some players with a problem today.''

His players will have to deal with the abundance of Premier League games coming up as they are set to play out eight fixtures in the next month but Pellegrino is remaining calm at this potential hurdle in the season; "Most of my players are ready to compete and with the fixture calendar we have in the next two months, that is good news for us."

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Mauricio Pellegrino shows admiration for his opposite number 

One of the brightest and most prosperous English bosses in the top-flight is currently in charge at AFC Bournemouth, Eddie Howe, and has been for the eight years of his managerial career so far. 

The ex-Cherries defender individually got the club from the fourth-tier of the football pyramid to the Premier League and has sustained their top division status on two occasions, and is eager to push on further up the table this campaign. 

Southampton man Pellegrino has shown his respect for the 40 year-old ahead of the game at the Vitality Stadium; "When you are a team that comes from the Championship, from relegation it is not easy to build a team that can compete like they did last season and as they are doing now.''

Southampton fans to expect difficult game in Dorset

The Saints cross the county border from Hampshire into Dorset for this match and the manager knows the opposition could cause his players a lot of problems during the ninety minutes of football; ''Every year they try to be stronger even at home because in the last few games they have been picking up points.''

AFC Bournemouth's most recent outing at home came midweek when they played hosts to Burnley, but were on the wrong end of a 2-1 score line, so Southampton will certainly want to attack that defence on Sunday and a lot of visiting supporters can expect the three points to return to St. Mary's