COVID-19 has swept through AFC Bournemouth over the last couple of weeks leaving manager Scott Parker with limited options for the trip to Huish Park – albeit probably not as limited as his opposite number, Darren Sarll.
The bout of the virus saw the Cherries’ opening Championship fixture of 2022 postponed on January 3 meaning they have not played since the 3-0 home win over Cardiff City on December 30.
Speaking before the weekend, Parker said he expects to use the depth of his squad: “I want to stay in this competition, get through to the next round and win this game, but with the climate of where we are (with COVID) there’s no doubt we will be using the squad.
“That is because those players deserve an opportunity and because of where we are in terms of COVID cases and injuries as well.
“We are going to need to be sensible and use the squad sensibly.”
Highly-rated defender Lloyd Kelly and young keeper Will Dennis were the players first diagnosed with the virus and both have now served their isolation periods.
Defender Jordan Zemura had been due to link up with the Zimbabwe squad for their African Cup of Nations campaign, but media reports suggest he did not make the trip as he was isolating.
The main aim to win promotion back to the Premier League seems likely to have a greater say over the strength of the Cherries’ side on display and it seems unlikely their bigger names will feature in the FA Cup.
The smart money is on the likes of striker Dominic Solanke, the £17m signing from Liverpool, highly-rated midfielder Philip Billing or Jeff Lerma will feature – but don’t rule out them being on the bench.
However, Parker has placed faith in products of the club’s prolific academy this season and the likes of Jaidon Anthony, who Yeovil fans will remember impressing in a pre-season friendly at Huish Park in September 2020, Irish midfielder Gavin Kilkenny and defender Zeno Ibsen-Rossi all featuring this season.
It seems more likely that some of these young talents will be among those on show for the Red Button cameras this weekend.
There’s probably not a huge amount we can tell from the appearance of a side made up of the club’s under-18s and development squad members in the Hampshire Senior Cup in midweek.
They lost 1-0 at Southern League side Farnborough Town with defender Ibsen-Rossi and Gloverscast legend (well, to Ben at least) striker Euan Pollock all in action.
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FROM THE MANAGER
Bournemouth manager Scott Parker has told his players they need to arrive at Huish Park ready to put in a performance or risk becoming another victim of the Yeovil Town’s FA Cup giant-killing record books:
He told the club’s official website: “If there’s one thing the FA Cup does bring, no matter how many teams are in between you and the opposition, it’s all irrelevant.
“This is what makes this Cup special, it brings really strange results and sometimes well deserved results, so the one thing we need to understand is we have to go there with the right attitude.
“We need to understand what this competition can bring and put in a performance, if we don’t, it will be a tough day for us.”
Even if some of the Bournemouth bigger names seem likely to be rested, there are a number of players returning from injury who will be familiar faces from the Cherries’ Premier League era who could well feature at Huish Park.
Striker Junior Stanislas is a doubt with a shoulder injury and was subbed on and off again after just 14 minutes on the pitch in the win at Cardiff in the last outing.
Manager Scott Parker said he was seeing a specialist about the injury this week, so his presence will depend on the outcome of that appointment.
The boss also said Republic of Ireland winger Robbie Brady winger was back in training this week, adding: “We’ll have to assess whether this weekend is too soon for Robbie or not.”
Midfielder Ben Pearson (ankle) was an unused substitute in South Wales and has not featured since the start of December, while Lewis Cook is expected to continue his comeback after a rupturing knee ligaments last season, so both could get minutes at the weekend.
Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland, who joined on a free from Norwich City in the summer, could get a start in goal, but it seems likely that the match will have a youthful feel.
Unlikely to appear are new signings defenders Ethan Laird, who has signed on loan from Manchester United, and James Hill, a £1m addition from League One Fleetwood Town, who both arrived this week.
Parker said: “We need to work out where they both are physically, we need to tread carefully around that.
“There’s going to be some work with them around the way we play, the boys we have with us now have worked tirelessly over the last six months and they’re well drilled to understand the game model.
“So, these two new lads are going to need a speedy lesson.”
FOOT IN BOTH CAMPS
In the Yeovil Town camp, midfielder Matt Worthington and striker Joe Quigley are both products of the Dean Court academy.
Quigley, who was born in the New Forest, spent eight years on the South Coast having started in the academy as an 11-year-old before going on to make eight separate loan spells before being released in 2018.
Worthington joined Bournemouth in 2011 having been in the youth team set-up at both Portsmouth and Southampton and made a Premier League appearance on the final day of the 2016-17 season.
- Alex Dobre – Bournemouth (2016-20), Yeovil Town (2019 – loan)
- Jordan Green – Bournemouth (2015-17), Yeovil Town (2017-19)
- Sam Surridge – Bournemouth (2015-21), Yeovil Town (2017-18 – loan)
- Matt Butcher – Bournemouth (2015-20), Yeovil Town (2016-17 – loan)
- Brandon Goodship – Bournemouth (2013-17), Yeovil Town (2017 – loan)
- Danny Seaborne – Bournemouth (2013 – loan), Yeovil Town (2013-14)
- Ben Whitfield – Bournemouth (2014-18), Yeovil Town (2016-17 – loan)
- Wes Fogden – Bournemouth (2011-14), Yeovil Town (2015-16)
- Shaun MacDonald – Yeovil Town (2009-11 – five loan spells), Bournemouth (2011-16)
- Asmir Begovic – Yeovil Town (2008 – loan), Bournemouth (2017-21)
- Marc Wilson – Yeovil Town (2007 – loan), Bournemouth (2007 – loan, 2016-17)
- Simon Weatherstone – Yeovil Town (2004), Bournemouth (2014-21 – first-team coach)
- Martin Cranie – Bournemouth (2004), Yeovil Town (2006-07 – loan)
- James Hayter – Bournemouth (1997-07), Yeovil Town (2012-15)