By PA Sport Staff
Bournemouth interim head coach Gary O’Neil has challenged his squad to show the collective mentality needed to push on again without captain Lloyd Kelly when they host Brentford.
The Cherries skipper has not featured since the win over Nottingham Forest at the start of September as he manages a knee issue.
O’Neil admits the loss of the defender is a “huge blow”, but backed the rest of the group to rally round again as Bournemouth look to extend their three-match unbeaten run when Premier League action resumes.
“At Newcastle, the boys that came in to the backline, and the team spirit, the work in front of that backline, was massive for us,” said O’Neil, who is likely to hand the armband to Adam Smith.
“We will be looking to make sure we are solid and resolute again.”
O’Neil told a press conference: “Obviously, there is that importance of being captain, but everyone does that role in their own way.
“The group need to play their part in making sure we are in the right place – the captain sets that off for you, but the lads drive themselves well here.
“We need to manage ourselves in good moments and I think the mentality and intensity of the group is always good.”
O’Neil reported no fresh selection concerns following the international break, during which Brentford striker Ivan Toney was called up to the England squad for the first time, although he did not play against either Italy or Germany.
Toney’s five goals so far, including an impressive hat-trick against Leeds, saw him force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans ahead of the World Cup.
O’Neil, though, knows Bournemouth will have more to worry about than just trying to stop Toney from adding to his tally at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
“He has obviously had a fantastic start to the season, scored some real good goals and was a big part of what they did last season as well,” O’Neil said.
“He is a good player for sure. There are not too many number nines like him around anymore either, so it is not something that centre-backs come up against as often as they used to.
“It will be a test of course for us, but they carry a lot of threats to be fair. Brentford are a good side, not just Ivan Toney, so we need to be ready.”
O’Neil added: “Brentford are a real threat from set-plays, are a physical side and play forwards a lot.
“They look like they do a lot of work on set-plays and are well organised.
“As with every game I look at a team’s threats and how I feel they will look to hurt us and what we can do about it.”