Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil admits his side can take a huge step towards Premier League survival with victory at bottom side Southampton.
The Cherries have won four of their last seven matches to boost their hopes of staying up and another win on Thursday would move them on to 36 points with five games left.
O’Neil told a press conference: “The closer to the end you get when there’s a couple or a few games left, it becomes clear what may be needed and what may not.
“At this point there are so many permutations still that we focus purely on trying to win our next game still.
“I’m not sure I can imagine a team being relegated with 36 (points) this season. I think it’s possible, so we definitely will not be setting 36 as our goal, not that we will set a points tally.
“Thirty-six would not be something that I’m aiming for in my mind.
“Aiming to leave St Mary’s with 36 hopefully and then we’ll address the next game after that and see where we are and that’s the mentality we’ve taken from the start.”
Southampton go into the game on the back of a 3-3 draw with leaders Arsenal, having surrendered a two-goal lead in the dying minutes at the Emirates Stadium.
Ruben Selles’ side are without a win in seven games heading into the crunch clash, but O’Neil feels there is plenty of fight left in them.
He said: “They’ve made big improvements since the new head coach took over and they’re not really in relegation form since he’s taken the job.
“It’s not like we’re going to a team that are losing every week and have been rooted to the bottom of the table because they’re in terrible form.
“They’re putting in some really good performances and picking up some good results. If anyone is in any doubt, then I can assure them it’ll be a really tough game for us.”
The meeting at St Mary’s comes four days after a 4-0 home defeat to West Ham and three before the visit of another relegation rival in Leeds.
O’Neil said: “Obviously it’s a three-game week for us, so we may have to freshen things up here and there and move a few things around.
“We’ve got two big games in quick succession, so we’ll need to utilise this big squad for it.”
O’Neil is hopeful midfielder Joe Rothwell will return on Thursday after he was substituted with a mild hamstring problem at half-time against the Hammers.
Midfielder Hamed Traore and on-loan defender Jack Stephens are both injured.