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Season preview: Bournemouth

Sports Mole casts an eye over Bournemouth's prospects for the upcoming 2013-14 Championship campaign.

With the Championship season beginning this weekend, Sports Mole casts its eye over newly-promoted Bournemouth's summer and their prospects for the 2013-14 campaign.

In:

Ian Harte (from Reading, Free), Elliott Ward (from Norwich City, Free), Mohamed Coulibaly (from Grasshoppers, Free)

Out:

Jonathan Meades (to Oxford United, Free), Charlie Sheringham (to AFC Wimbledon, Free), Dan Strugnell (to Havant & Waterlooville, Free), Mathieu Baudry (Released), Warren Cummings (Released), Jordan Seabright (Released), Michael Symes (Released), Lyle Taylor (Released), Steve Fletcher (Retired), Matt Tubbs (to Rotherham United, Loan)

Last Season: 2nd, League One

Manager: Eddie Howe

Three key players:


Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick confronts MK Dons striker Ryan Lowe.
Tommy Elphick - While Bournemouth's attacking players captured the majority of the headlines during their promotion campaign, the work of their defenders did get unnoticed. Having earned the role as captain shortly after his arrival from Brighton & Hove Albion last summer, Elphick would go on to produce a number of high-class performances. As a result, he was voted as the local newspaper's Player of the Season. The quality of striker will have gone up a notch this time around, but having experienced this level with his former employers, Howe will be confident that his skipper can cope.


Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie scores his team's second against Bury on March 23, 2013© PA Photos
Matt Ritchie - Since earning a regular place in the Swindon Town linuep in 2010, winger Ritchie has widely been regarded as one of the best footballers outside of the top two divisions in England. The 23-year-old is a quick and tricky customer, with an eye for the spectacular goal. There will be a lot of expectation on his shoulders over the coming months, so it will be interesting to see if he can replicate his recent form in the second tier. The fact that he can also operate a full-back if needed has made him a valuable member in Howe's ranks.


Bournemouth's Brett Pitman celebrates scoring the opener againsy Bury on March 23, 2013© PA Photos
Brett Pitman - It's imperative that any promoted club has a centre-forward capable of a double-figure goal return. Having shone for the Cherries, he earned a move to Championship side Bristol City in 2010, scoring 13 times in his first season. The second campaign was not as prolific, though, as he found the net only on seven occasions. He's now back at Bournemouth and rediscovered his clinical touch last year with 19 goals. If Howe's men are to preserve their status, Pitman will have to be among the goals on a regular basis.

First game: Charlton Athletic (H), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: First and foremost, Howe will want his side to ensure that they are still a Championship outfit this time next year. The 35-year-old is an ambitious manager, though, and is likely to challenge his squad to aim for nearer the halfway mark. Had they not have gained promotion, then a number of the Bournemouth players looked destined for moves to clubs in the Championship, such is the perceived quality at Dean Court. What's more, Howe has made some shrewd defensive additions in the form of Ian Harte and Elliott Ward. The fact that they are also able to score goals from all around the pitch should see them safe.

Predicted finish: 16th

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Bournemouth's Brett Pitman celebrates scoring the opener againsy Bury on March 23, 2013
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