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First team

Injuries give others a chance says boss

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Manager Eddie Howe is sweating on the fitness of several key players ahead of AFC Bournemouth’s Premier League showdown with Tottenham tomorrow.

Dan Gosling, David Brooks, Adam Smith and Dominic Solanke are all doubts as the Cherries prepare to bring down the curtain on their home campaign against the Champions' League semi-finalists (12.30pm kick-off).

Gosling suffered a calf injury and was forced off in the 53rd minute having netted the Cherries’ opening goal in their 3-3 draw against Southampton six days ago.

Although David Brooks played the full 90 minutes at St Mary’s, he took several heavy blows to his ankle, while Solanke is nursing a hamstring complaint.

Smith has been sidelined for the past two games since hurting his knee in the Cherries’ 5-0 victory at Brighton last month and remains a doubt to feature against his former club.

Asked for an injury update at his pre-match press conference this morning, Howe said: “We have doubts over Dan Gosling, David Brooks, Adam Smith and Dominic Solanke so we have stretched resources at the moment.

“But we are trying to look at that as a positive in the respect that we have given opportunities to other players to see how they perform at this level. We are unsure who is going to be fit out of that group.”

Asked whether the injuries made it difficult for his preparation for the match, Howe added: “You have to overcome these things. It has been nothing new for us in the second-half of the season.

“Since we picked up the long-term knee injures to Lewis Cook and Simon Francis, we have been stretched and have never quite been able to redress the balance and keep everyone fit.

“So that has been one of the challenging parts of the season but let’s look at it as a positive and hopefully we will go well.”

Lewis Cook and Francis have been joined in the treatment room by fellow long-term casualties Junior Stanislas, Charlie Daniels and Andrew Surman, all of whom will not feature again this season.

Previewing the lunchtime visit of Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who arrive in Dorset ahead of their crucial Champions’ League semi-final second leg against Ajax, Howe said: “We are very keen to finish the season strongly and are motivated to do well this weekend. We would really love to finish our last home game with a win.

“Our games against Tottenham have been really challenging and I’d probably say our record against them has been mixed – and that’s being kind!

“We have found the exchanges tough but I think we have learned so much from the games, whether it be home or away.

“Every time we have gone into battle against them, we have come away learning certain things and trying to adapt our game to do better the next time.

“They have an outstanding manager and a great group of players who have done so well this season considering the fact they haven’t been active in the transfer market so huge compliments to Mauricio and his staff."

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