AFC Bournemouth look to be timing their late season charge to perfection, heading into tomorrow's game on the South Coast on the back of seven straight league wins. That run has propelled them from Play-Off chasers to automatic promotion hunters heading into the final three games of the campaign.
It has been far from plain sailing for The Cherries since their five-year stay in the Premier League ended last July. Jason Tindall, promoted from Eddie Howe's long-time assistant to the top job in the wake of relegation, lasted less than six months in charge with Jonathan Woodgate, fresh from a far than stellar spell in charge of Middlesbrough last season, then handed the reigns in February.
An upturn in results wasn't immediate under the former Real Madrid defender but once they hit their stride, they've not looked back.
The last seven league wins have seen 21 goals scored, contributed principally by their attacking quartet of Dom Solanke, Arnaut Danjuma, David Brooks, and Philip Billing. Defensive issues still remain, however, with just two clean sheets in 11 in all competitions.
The Cherries are now the league's top scorers (73) and in Solanke, Danjuma, and Junior Stanislas, are the only club in the second tier to have three players in double figures for goals this campaign.
Luka Racic played 45 minutes for Brentford B on Wednesday but Henrik Dalsgaard, Shandon Baptiste (both knee), Josh Dasilva (hip), and Rico Henry (hamstring) remain out.
Lloyd Kelly faces a couple of weeks out with an ankle issue picked up midweek against Millwall while Shane Long remains sidelined with a groin issue. Lewis Cook (knee) is out for the season.
Sacked by hometown Club Middlesbrough last June, it was a whirlwind return to football for Woodgate at the start of Febuary. Appointed on the Monday as a senior first team coach, by Wednesday he was the caretaker manager after Jason Tindall's departure, and three weeks later he had the job until the end of the season.
Woodgate's playing career began with Boro before moving to Leeds United at the age of 16. He made his debut at the age of 18 and amassed 142 appearances over the next five seasons before moving to Newcastle United. As injuries began to take their toll, he made just 37 appearances before an ill-fated spell at Real Madrid. He returned to the UK and Boro in 2006 but managed just 178 appearances over his final ten seasons with Boro, Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke, and then again on Teesside. The central defender also played eight times for England over a nine-year spell.
After a brief spell as an international scout for Liverpool in Spain and Portugal, Woodgate was appointed assistant coach to newly-appointed Middlesbrough caretaker manager Steve Agnew, following the dismissal of Aitor Karanka. After the club were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season, Woodgate vacated his position and joined the club's Academy coaching staff. In December 2017, Woodgate returned to his previous position as first team assistant coach, under the management of Tony Pulis, whom he then replaced in June 2019.
⚖ John Brooks will be the man in charge tomorrow
🆚 Tom Crocker of the Bournemouth Echo previews The Cherries
LAST TIME OUT
HOW TO FOLLOW
Saturday's game is exclusively live on Sky Sports.
There is no VIP access for Season Ticket and Premium Seat Members and only audio passes are available to buy on ifollow.
Get your audio match pass