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Blissett backs promoted pair


Luther Blissett is confident Watford and Bournemouth can compete in the Premier League

Luther Blissett is confident Watford and Bournemouth can compete in the Premier League

Luther Blissett is confident Watford and Bournemouth can compete in the Premier League

Former England striker Luther Blissett sees no reason why his old clubs Bournemouth and Watford cannot both hold their own in the Barclays Premier League next season.

The Cherries were the surprise package in the Sky Bet Championship as they secured the title to make it into the top flight for the first time.

Watford, meanwhile, edged out Norwich and Middlesbrough to claim the second automatic promotion place, returning to the Premier League following an eight-season absence.

While both, along with play-off winners Norwich, are bookmakers' favourites for a swift relegation, Blissett - who enjoyed spells at each club during the 1980s - has every confidence they can upset the formbook.

"I have a sneaky feeling both Watford and Bournemouth might just be okay in the Premier League this year," Blissett told Press Association Sport.

"If you look at it say from 12th place down, then you have probably got a chance of getting enough points off those teams to give yourself a chance of staying up.

"Both squads will have players capable of giving it a right go.

"If they both stay up, then the smaller clubs can say, 'well if Watford and Bournemouth can do it, then we can do it', and that can only make our football in this country stronger."

Blissett played for the Cherries under Harry Redknapp from 1988 to 1991, before returning for a third spell at Vicarage Road.

The one-time AC Milan frontman - who famously netted a hat-trick on his England debut against Luxembourg in 1982 - has been impressed with the work ethic installed by Eddie Howe over the past couple of seasons at the Goldsands Stadium.

"For me Bournemouth are a phenomenal story for what they have done, from nearly going out of business and today here they are looking forward to a season playing the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool," said Blissett.

"The manager has done an exceptional job with players who fit into his philosophy and I think they might just surprise a few people in the Premier League.

"You have to trust what Eddie Howe has achieved at the club since he has been there, turning things right around, and how he will go about it now.

"There will not be too many big names because he does not want to upset the dressing room, which is a very happy place.

"You just need one or two players in the right positions, and that will give you a chance."

Blissett, who took part in the Prostate Cancer UK London to Amsterdam bike ride, made his name at Watford, where his goals helped the Hertfordshire club rise to the old First Division under Graham Taylor, runners-up to Liverpool in 1983.

The 57-year-old believes the current squad, set to be managed by new head coach Quique Flores, have plenty of attacking talent to get the results they need back among the elite clubs.

"If Watford are going to make the next step, then it is going to be a combination of the players being hungry enough, and they are because they showed great quality last season, and then somebody with real Premier League experience who can help guide them," he said.

"Watford are capable of scoring goals - Troy Deeney scored more than 20 goals again for the third season in a row; Matej Vydra, okay so it did not quite work out for him in the Premier League the season before (at West Brom), but he is a great finisher and Odion Ighalo is amazing, he really turned it on mid-season.

"Fernando Forestieri is another with great ability who can beat people and you are going to need that to unlock some of these defences."

More than 250 riders set off from Leyton Orient on Friday morning to cycle to Harwich, before a ferry crossing to Holland ahead of Saturday's final leg of the 145-mile journey to Amsterdam, with a fundraising target of £300,000 for Prostate Cancer UK's Men United campaign.

Blissett said: "It is now three years I have been involved in this bike ride and the amount of people we now have involved is incredible.

"The money we are raising can now go forwards to the research to help save lives."

:: Men United is Prostate Cancer UK's movement for everyone who believes that men are worth fighting for, to help us beat prostate cancer and keep friendships alive. This summer Men United has many fun ways for people to see their mates, from bike rides, sponsored walks, BBQs and quiz nights - all whilst doing something great for Prostate Cancer UK. Search Men United, or visit prostatecanceruk.org/menunited.

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