Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is not about to let rumours over what might happen at Chelsea distract him from getting on with his own job.
With Chelsea boss Antonio Conte seeing his position under the spotlight, Howe has been backed in some quarters to replace the Italian should the Blues make a change in the dugout.
Howe guided Bournemouth to a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge on January 31, which was followed by another disappointing defeat for Chelsea when Conte’s side were beaten 4-1 at Watford on Monday night.
The Cherries also defeated Arsenal in their recent upturn in form, with an eight-match unbeaten run in the Premier League carrying them into the top half of the table.
With another testing match coming up at relegation-battlers Huddersfield on Sunday, Howe is not about to let anything distract his focus.
“I don’t know anything about Chelsea and how they work to be honest, so that is a very difficult one for me to answer,” Howe said, when quizzed about whether what goes on at Chelsea would be the complete opposite to how he works now.
“I think everyone knows my focus is always on the next training session (with Bournemouth).
“What other people say, whether it is good or bad, I try and give it little relevance to how I think.”
Given Bournemouth’s solid recent form, which is in stark contrast to earlier in the campaign, midfielder Harry Arter has found it difficult to break back into the regular starting XI.
Arter, 28, was an unused substitute for last weekend’s win over Stoke, and has suggested there could be discussions over his long-term future in the summer, with rumours of interest from West Ham.
Howe, though, has no intentions of letting Arter go anywhere, and challenged the long-serving Bournemouth player to prove his current selection wrong.
“My job is to pick what I believe is the best team to win the next game and that’s what I do,” Howe said at a press conference, as broadcast on the club’s official website
“Harry’s job is to try and get in that team – that is how it should work.
“He signed a four-year contract in the summer and that showed our faith in the player and what we think of him, so from my perspective that contract runs for four years.”
Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, though, is very much in Howe’s current first-choice XI.
Wilson, now back from a serious knee injury, has scored seven goals since returning to action in late October.
Howe feels Wilson “is the whole package” and could well be “in the mix” for an England call-up ahead of the World Cup.
“He’s catching the headlines and doing the business in such a tough and demanding league,” Howe added.