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First Team

Cherries sweat on Lerma fitness


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Manager Eddie Howe is sweating on the availability of midfielder Jefferson Lerma ahead of the Cherries’ Premier League clash with Liverpool tomorrow.

Lerma has been troubled by a nagging ankle injury in recent weeks and will face a late fitness test before Howe names his team for the Anfield showdown.

The Colombian international has featured in 19 of the Cherries’ 25 games in the Premier League since his summer move from Levante.

Lerma sat out the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at the end of last month before coming off the bench in the 69th minute of the 2-0 defeat at Cardiff six days ago.

Boss Howe said Lerma was his only fresh injury concern ahead of the Cherries’ trip to Merseyside where they will face the second-placed Reds.

Discussing Lerma at his pre-match press conference this morning, Howe said: "We are waiting on a fitness test for Jefferson.

"He’s had a niggling ankle injury for a few weeks so has been on and off with his training this week. We will wait and see whether he’s fit."

Howe said striker Callum Wilson and midfielder David Brooks would both remain sidelined, probably for another four weeks.

Wilson, who has missed the Cherries’ past two games, had a knee clean-up operation at the end of last month, while Brooks sustained an ankle injury during the 4-0 win over Chelsea.

Giving an update on Wilson and Brooks, Howe said: "They have pretty similar timescales.

"David has been to see a specialist and has had scans so I think around the four-week mark for him. 

"Callum had a clean-out in his knee so, again, probably around the same mark but we are not going to be able to get them back earlier than that.

"They are both big misses for us, big misses for the team and the group. They are big personalities as well so we’re very keen to get them back fit but, in the meantime, I believe we have the squad strength to cover those players."

Howe will be forced to make at least one change to his starting line-up with loan signing Nathaniel Clyne ineligible to face his parent club.


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