EDDIE Howe insists it is 'business as usual’ for him at Burnley, despite speculation linking him with a return to former club Bournemouth.
The Clarets boss is understood to be a target for the Cherries as they search for a new manager following Paul Groves’ departure on Wednesday.
But Howe, who played for and managed his boyhood club – leading the fight against the drop and going on to win promotion in his first full season in charge in 2010 – played down the prospect of a Cherries reunion ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Crystal Palace.
“This is a Bournemouth story, it’s not really one I should comment on.
“But I’m proud to be Burnley manager, we’ve just started the job and we feel there’s a long way to go,” said Howe, who along with ex-Burnley boss Steve Cotterill was installed as the bookmakers’ joint favourite to succeed Groves, at 6/4.
Sources in Bournemouth revealed Cherries chairman Eddie Mitchell could be ready to make an official approach in the coming days, although the League One club could also consider MK Dons boss Karl Robinson. Former Portsmouth and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp already has a role at the club, as an unpaid advisor, following his departure from White Hart Lane, and last night ruled himself out of the running.
But as Howe prepares for tomorrow’s trip to Selhurst Park, he stressed: “There are no distractions, you can’t afford distractions.
“We’ve had to prepare in training and everything else that goes with it. I can assure you that everyone’s mind is 100 per cent on this game.”
The 34-year-old insists his only focus is on making up for dropping four points from winning positions in their last two home games.
“We recognise that defensively we haven’t been good enough this year,” he added. “Generally in open play we’ve been okay, but the last two games we haven’t been.
“I don’t think there’s anything majorly wrong, it’s not crisis time.
“We’re three unbeaten and we have to remember that. The last two games felt like defeats, but they have been points on the board.
“We’re aiming for consistency and a run of games undefeated, and hopefully that’s a start.”
He added: “We feel we’re not far away, there were some really positive spells in the first half on Tuesday against Sheffield Wednesday, and some of our play was excellent.
“The (first two) goals we scored came from 15 passes apiece, starting from Lee Grant.”
The players held a dressing room inquest after the final whistle of their midweek 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, after surrendering their lead three times.
Although Howe was disappointed and frustrated by the result, the Clarets boss admitted he took encouragement from the debate.
“I haven’t seen that type of response before, to that sort of level, and it was refreshing to see,” he said.
“Quite a few of the players spoke with heart and showed they genuinely care, and I’m sure every supporter will be pleased to hear that.
“They care deeply about their profession and want to be successful, and when you want to be successful in the environment you’re in you’ve got to demand a lot from each other.
“That was a huge step for us.”
Howe hopes to have Jason Shackell and Chris McCann available for the Palace game, but said neither would be rushed back from their respective knee problems before the two-week break for internationals.
“We’ve missed Shacks – with him in the side we have looked tighter,” he said. “We’ll wait and see.”