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Elphick: We can't afford another barren spell
STAND-in skipper Tommy Elphick knows Cherries can ill afford another blip if their League One promotion dream is to become a reality.
Elphick has played a starring role as Cherries have climbed from the relegation zone to the fringes of the play-off places since the return of Eddie Howe as manager in October.
A 14-match unbeaten run in the league – which has seen Cherries take 34 points from a possible 42 – has helped repair the damage from a poor start which saw them muster only eight points from their first 11 games.
Elphick told the Daily Echo: “It is a strange league this season and we saw that from Hartlepool’s win at Sheffield United before Christmas.
“If we are to do anything, we have got to average more than two points per game for the rest of the season. In previous years, an average of two points per game from the start of the season would have got you automatic promotion.
“We are a little below that at the moment and need to start turning some of our draws into wins so we can try to get up towards the top two.
“The way things have turned out, the table is a bit jumbled at the moment with certain teams having games in hand.
“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves because we don’t want to be relying on other teams to do us favours and we don’t want to hit another barren patch.”
Cherries could regain a place in the top six with victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Swindon at Dean Court tomorrow (3pm).
The clash will see Cherries put on the line their run of four successive clean sheets in the league against a Robins outfit which has netted 16 goals without reply in their past four games.
Cherries boss Howe said: “It is a really good match up and they have been on a terrific run. They have scored a number of goals and haven’t conceded many either so their record is up there as one of the best in the league. They are on a really good run and so are we. It is set up to be a good game between two good teams.
“We have looked at their strengths and weaknesses, as we do with every team. We have had a good week to look at them and try to get in place our game-plan. We have done that and now it is up to the players to execute it and, hopefully, perform and keep on our good run.
“We are in the middle of a tough run of games and the lads have done tremendously well so far and we want to keep it going. It is a key game for us because, mentally, we are up against one of our rivals for the top six and Swindon are above us.”
Cherries: (from) Jalal, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, McQuoid, Hughes, Arter, O’Kane, Pugh, Tubbs, Fogden, Pitman, Fletcher, Partington, McDermott, Demouge, Grabban, Thomas, James.
Robins: (from) Foderingham, N Thompson, Devera, Ward, McCormack, Ritchie, Hollands, Ferry, Roberts, Williams, Collins, Flint, Navarro, Miller, De Vita, A Rooney, Martin, Bedwell.