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 By Will Kent

With safety secured, Cherries can start building for next season starting vs. Stoke

Eddie Howe's side are now safe and his side can finally enjoy a stress-free remainder of the season, starting with their next fixture against Stoke City on May 6. After two wins and clean sheets in the past two fixtures, the chance to even build some momentum heading into the next campaign is possible and a great opportunity the Cherries should not throw away.

While the next four games are a chance just to enjoy the football and embrace the achievement of securing Premier League football for a third year in a row, certain players are playing for their Bournemouth careers. Talent such as Lys Mousset have got to make a big impression in a short space of time if they want to be playing their football at the Vitality Stadium next season. Max Gradel's future is also in question and despite recently reportedly admitting he wants to leave the club, a run of games in May could change his mind.

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The next few fixtures are also a chance for further assessment as to where the club should bring in new players. Back in January the two areas of the team that were a cause for concern were in central defence, replacing Simon Francis, and a better option to Artur Boruc in goal. However, right now these two are in a great run of form and the warning bells regarding the pair have faded away since.

Boruc triggered a contract extension after making the required amount of appearances and while he has bettered his performances of late, a new first choice goalkeeper should be high on the priority list this summer. The 37-year-old would be a brilliant second choice keeper at any club and his experience will be valuable to have remain at the club.

Jermain Defoe is being heavily linked with a return to the Cherries for next season following Sunderland's relegation. Like Boruc, his experience would be useful asset to the club and if the deal is at a reasonable price, he should definitely be given a chance. He's proved again over this season that despite his age he is more than capable of cutting it at Premier League level. Callum Wilson's injury remains a big concern still and when he returns from injury question marks will remain over his ability to properly recover from such a devastating second ACL injury. Defoe would be a great alternative for him.

Bournemouth
Josh King has been in torrid form since the start of the year but will Bournemouth be able to hold onto their prized striker?

Fellow forward Josh King is also attracting attention from Spurs among other clubs due to his impressive run of form since January which has seen him net 12 times. His homegrown status is a massive attraction and the Cherries will do well to hold on to him this summer. In that respect, Defoe could also be a suitable replacement for him as well if he does get sold. For the right price, King's departure should be considered but it would be an amount definitely over £20 million in today's market.

While central midfield also remains a possible point for further recruitment in the summer, the first objective is getting both Harry Arter and Lewis Cook in sync for this weekend's clash against the Potters. Against Sunderland last time out the duo were the two least impressive players on the pitch. They struggled to move the ball quickly enough and didn't hugely influence the game. Cook has a lot to prove over the rest of the season, otherwise a loan move elsewhere could be a very realistic and likely option.

Despite the minor concern in central midfield, form suggests another Bournemouth win against Stoke. The Potters have only won two of their last 10 fixtures while the Cherries have won four and drawn three in the same amount of games. The south coast side also managed three clean sheets in April. While a loss at home wouldn't be a travesty, it would be a genuine surprise given how well Bournemouth have been playing of late.

It should be an enjoyable month of football for Howe's side and while there are still things to play for such as a higher league position, the hard work has been done for now and the club should enjoy their rewards.

Will Kent is a freelance journalist who has worked for AFC Bournemouth, ESPN UK and ESPN FC, among others. Twitter: @WillKentSPORT

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