Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe insists he is paying no attention to reports suggesting he is in the running to be the next Chelsea manager.
Howe was linked with the vacant Chelsea managerial position earlier this week, reportedly on a contingency short-list including Leicester’s Claudio Ranieri, Mark Hughes at Stoke and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino should Blues owner Roman Abramovich fail to land a big name coach to permanently succeed Jose Mourinho in the summer
However, the 38-year-old says he has nothing else on his mind other than taking Bournemouth forwards.
“My focus is here. I have heard about the story but you look at it and then it’s forgotten. It’s just gone, it doesn’t mean anything so it’s work, Portsmouth and making sure we progress in this cup competition,” he said.
“I always say – and this is for players and for me – it’s nice when you get linked with other clubs or jobs because it means you’re doing a good job where you are.
“I would take that every day of the week because it means that, hopefully, we are achieving our aim of staying in the Premier League.”
Howe is in the midst of preparing his players for the trip to League Two outfit Portsmouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Cherries now find themselves as a prized top-flight scalp following promotion last season.
Pompey have fallen down the divisions since establishing themselves in the Premier League under Harry Redknapp, winning the FA Cup in 2008.
Nevertheless, Howe knows full well what reception will await the Bournemouth players when they travel up the M27, having joined the Fratton Park club in March 2002 as Redknapp’s first signing only to suffer a serious knee injury.
“The Fratton Park pitch is quite close to the stands there and the Portsmouth crowd really stick with their players, so if we don’t start well, it will be difficult for us,” Howe said.
“The mentality from when we arrive at the stadium will be key for us.
“We want to progress and coming into the third round now is still a new experience for us, a couple of wins and you are looking at the latter stages, so we will take it very seriously.
“The magic is there, if you want it to be, and the FA Cup can still be a huge competition in English football.”
Current Pompey boss Paul Cook has taken his side up into the top six of League Two, and knocked Championship side Ipswich out in round three after a replay back at Fratton Park.
“They have been hugely impressive this season with a good work rate and Paul Cook has them well organised, they have every chance of going up,” Howe said at his press conference.
“We know that away from home, in a cup tie, which is a derby, that we will have to be at our best to progress.”
Howe also confirmed captain Tommy Elphick would be involved in the squad having returned to action in an under-21s match following recovery from ankle surgery which sidelined the defender since mid-September.
“I am really pleased to have Tommy back, he was our leader on and off the pitch for so long, a key player at the football club,” the Bournemouth boss said.
“He has been a modern professional behind the scenes to get back as soon as he can. You can’t have enough people like that in your dressing room.”