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Injustice still burns for Bournemouth over Tyrone Mings ban
Bournemouth will host West Ham on Saturday still bristling with a sense of injustice over the ban handed to Tyrone Mings.
Defender Mings begins a five-match suspension for his stamp on the head of Zlatan Ibrahimovic last weekend, an incident he, manager Eddie Howe and the club insist was accidental.
Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic received a three-match ban for his subsequent elbow on Mings, but the Cherries man was given a longer suspension after the Football Association stated the standard punishment would have been "clearly insufficient".
On Wednesday Bournemouth issued a statement in which they branded the decision "extraordinary" and claimed "there is absolutely no evidence to prove the incident was intentional".
That view was echoed by Howe in his pre-match press conference, while Mings took to Twitter to reveal his disappointment and hurt at the judgement.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that Bournemouth - without a win in 2017 - will have to do without Mings and midfielder Andrew Surman, who was sent off during the stormy 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, when they face the Hammers.
Howe said: "We're disappointed for Tyrone, we feel it was accidental.
"I don't think he has that kind of streak in him. Although he's a beast in stature he's a gentle giant on and off the pitch.
"I see a defender who has made a very good tackle trying to get back to his goal as quickly as possible. His focus is on the ball, not on what lies beneath him."
Bournemouth cannot appeal against the suspension so Howe will now be without Mings until the trip to Tottenham on April 15.
"We've looked at several options, but at the end of it we have to take the decision and move on," he added.
Captain Simon Francis is making progress after a hamstring injury but could miss out again while goalkeeper Adam Federici and striker Callum Wilson are continuing their rehabilitation from knee injuries.
Meanwhile Dimitri Payet has revealed he first told West Ham boss Slaven Bilic last summer that he wanted a move and played his final games for the Londoners "without any pleasure".
French playmaker Payet was a star of Euro 2016 and forced a move away from the London Stadium in January after going on strike.
He joined Marseille for B#25million, having become unhappy in London and fearing his talent was being stifled by Bilic's tactics.
"I didn't want to play my last roles in the Premier League," he told L'Equipe.
"Our way of approaching matches, the defensive system put in place, it didn't please me.
"It was difficult to express myself. You could say I was annoyed. I was going through games without taking any pleasure.
"I had contact with Marseille and notably (Marseille coach) Rudi Garcia, who has a philosophy I knew well. The choice was quick. If I waited six months, I'd lose six months."
Bilic will welcome back Michail Antonio on Saturday.
Antonio was suspended for the visit of Chelsea but will start on the south coast while striker Andy Carroll is also available despite requiring stitches after clashing with Victor Moses.
Winston Reid, who limped off against Chelsea with a leg injury, is also in contention for the trip to the Vitality Stadium.