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First team

Ake and Lerma could return

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Manager Eddie Howe is hoping influential pair Nathan Ake and Jefferson Lerma could be in contention to face Chelsea tomorrow.

Ake and Lerma were both forced to miss the Cherries’ 3-0 defeat at Burnley due to respective head and rib injuries.

Although defender Ake travelled to Turf Moor, the Netherlands international was declared unfit to start due to concussion.

Lerma, who was suspended for the trip to Sheffield United ahead of the winter break, had been expected to return but was sidelined after feeling discomfort following the win over Aston Villa.

Howe, speaking this morning at his pre-match press conference, confirmed both players had trained this week and could be available for selection.

He added: “Nathan has trained this week so, hopefully, should be okay providing there are no ill effects from his head injury.

“It’s a similar case with Jeff and he has come through a couple of days’ training.”

Meanwhile, Howe said long-term injury victims David Brooks, Arnaut Danjuma, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly were all progressing well.

He said: “They are running on grass but haven’t joined us in training yet. Chris is a bit behind the others and they are improving quite quickly.

“We would hope to get them back in training, if not next week then the week after.”

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