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First team

Team news: Ake & King Latest Pre-City

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Nathan Ake and Adam Smith will miss Wednesday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium, while a late call will be made on the availability of Joshua King.

Ake was replaced during the first half of the Cherries’ 4-1 win over Leicester City on Sunday and joins Smith in missing the match against Manchester City, the full-back having also been absent at the week-end due to concussion protocols.

King also missed the Foxes win with a minor hamstring injury, with manager Eddie Howe talking in his pre-match press conference about availability in his squad with three games remaining this season.

“Joshua King, we’ll see how he is, whether he’ll make the game. We’ve got Nathan Ake who will be out, Chris Mepham will be out, Simon Francis will be out,” explained Howe.

“Adam Smith won’t make the game either, so we have obvious concerns there defensively, we’re very stretched in that department of the team.”

The boss expanded on Ake’s injury, which came after the Netherlands international’s brilliant recovering tackle to deny Jamie Vardy at a crucial stage of the match.

“It’s a groin injury, a minor groin injury,” said Howe. “I don’t think it’s anything too serious for Nathan, I’m still I the same situation in that I don’t know if we’ll see Nathan again this season.

“I don’t think it’s a definite no, but it’s not a definite yes either. We’ll have to see how he responds in the next few days.”

A major positive in the defensive area came with the return of Steve Cook, the Cherries’ record Premier League appearance maker, who came on from the bench when called upon, despite a recent hamstring injury.

“It was really important,” said Howe. “We were very fortunate to be able to bring on a player of that experience and calibre. Cookie had his own injury issues and worries; he had a major hamstring operation just before lockdown.

“Then he felt some discomfort in a recent game so we didn’t really want to play him unless there was an absolute emergency, that emergency happened with Nathan going down and he came on and I thought he was absolutely brilliant for us.

“He contributed to that second-half performance, led the team really well vocally and was an inspirational figure, so we’re going to need him at his very best in these last three games.”

The Cherries manager also touched upon the boost given to his squad by Sunday’s result, and how the uplift is hoped to be channeled into three good performances as the club looks to maintain their position in the Premier League.

“Naturally winning, I’ve said all along in this difficult challenge that we face, winning is everything. Winning breeds so many good qualities and so many positive outcomes from it that it was what we absolutely needed.

“You could see a lift in the players, a bounce in their step, renewed confidence, renewed belief.

“We now go into three game left and we go into them with a very positive mindset.”

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