By Paul Jones
Steve Cooper has warned his Swansea City side they will face the strongest squad in the Championship when they host Bournemouth tonight.
Norwich City may be top of the table, but Cooper reckons Bournemouth – a point and one place behind the leaders – present the toughest challenge.
But victory for head coach Cooper’s side tonight – what would be their fourth in six games – would take them to the top of the Championship, at least for 24 hours.
Relegated from the Premier League last season, the Cherries lost a number of their star names but have retained sufficient quality to boast the best away record in the division with just one defeat.
The Swans, though, have one of the best home records with just one defeat but Cooper said: “For me, they’re the strongest squad – in terms of talent and depth – in the league.
“They’ve scored a lot of goals recently. I’m not surprised at how well they’re doing with the amount of good players they have at their availability.
“They can make loads of changes and they don’t lose any strength in the team. But we’re at home and we want to win.
“We just know that when we come up against them on Tuesday and when we play them again later in the season, it’s going to be as tough a game as any. But at the end of the day, we need to get excited about these games.”
Wales internationals David Brooks and Chris Mepham are both part of the Bournemouth squad and their attacking talent is underlined by Jason Tindall’s side having scored 29 goals in 16 games, with only Blackburn (31) having managed more.
They also include striker Sam Surridge, who spent the first half of last season on loan with the Swans and scored seven goals in 23 games.
Surridge scored in Bournemouth’s 4-0 win over Barnsley last Friday and said: “It was good playing Championship football for the first half of the season for myself – and getting a lot of experience.
Three of our lads in the latest Team of the Week. Fully deserved 👊 https://t.co/6acQjJG0ZF
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) December 7, 2020
“I think just proving that I could score at this level that kind of helped me going into this season to do well.
“They are a good team and it’s going to be a hard game. I know what to expect going into it, but I think if we play like we did against Barnsley, it shouldn’t be a problem.
“I was there for a few months and I did really enjoy it there but, as soon as you start playing you forget about it and you’ve just got to get on with the job at hand. I am looking forward to it.”
Swansea will again be without centre-back Ryan Bennett, who has a hamstring injury but are hopeful Marc Guehi can prove he has recovered fully after he suffered a head injury against Luton in the Swans’ 2-0 victory.
Another win for the Swans would take them top of the table, with Norwich and third-placed Reading not playing until tomorrow night.