Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is ready to keep faith with striker Jermain Defoe despite the 35-year-old having scored just once this season. The England World Cup hopeful has struggled in front of goal this term since his return to the south coast but will be retained for the trip to former side Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
Only fellow bottom three sides Swansea City and Huddersfield Town have netted less than the four Howe's side have mustered this season, with just one top flight win coming against Brighton and Hove Albion – courtesy of Defoe's winner – during the 2017-18 campaign.
Another win over Brighton in the Carabao Cup, a narrow defeat to Everton and draw with Leicester City prior to the international break suggested that Bournemouth were starting to turn the corner. And Howe hopes his side can use the trip to Tottenham as a way of continuing their improvement.
"We're almost there, in terms of getting consistent results," he said. "The problem at the start was that the performance weren't there, we have improved now and that gives us confidence. Goalscoring has been a problem for us this season, which isn't like us, but hopefully we can turn that round from now on.
"When you look at Jermain Defoe he's had big chances in all the games and when you look at his career if he gets those chances he will score. It's a team problem and I back Jermain to score a lot of goals for us in the future."
The Cherries' plight in front of goal was added to by three of their players picking up injuries during the international break. Brad Smith limped out of Australia's win over Syria with a hip problem; Ryan Fraser withdrew from the Scotland squad after damaging his hamstring; while Josh King was taken off during Norway's win over San Marino and missed the game against Northern Ireland.
The trio join Adam Federici and Tyrone Mings on the sidelines, both of whom have long-term knee and back problems.
"It was a difficult break for us because it seemed we were getting injuries at a pace," explained Howe. "Ryan Fraser had a hamstring problem and we don't know quite how serious that is at this moment. I don't think it's a long-term one and it's a similar situation with Joshua King. We will make a late decision on him this weekend.
"Brad is the major worry. He looks like he has got a nasty injury but we don't know the full extent. He has had one scan but we want to get it confirmed. It looks like he could be out for a period of time. I don't have an exact time for you but he seems to have a hip problem related to his quad muscle."
Callum Wilson ramped up his recovery from a second knee injury in as many seasons with a double for Bournemouth's Under-21 side in midweek but Howe admits the visit to Tottenham comes too soon for the 25-year-old. "I'm really pleased with how Callum Wilson is progressing. I think he needs time but signs are good for the future."
Though Bournemouth have struggled for goals and points this season, they arrival at the home of the England senior team where Tottenham are still yet to win in the Premier League. Defeat to Chelsea has been followed by frustrating draws against Burnley and Swansea but Howe predicts Mauricio Pochettino's side will rediscover their mojo at the national stadium sooner or later.
"Tottenham will be fine there, it's about acclimatising," he added. "They're still a very capable and talented team as you saw in the game against Borussia Dortmund recently. We have to treat it as we're playing Tottenham, not the new stadium, it's about how we approach the performance. The bigger the crowd we hope the bigger performance."