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First team

Team news: Cook missing, Pearson ready

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Captain Steve Cook will be missing from Wednesday's home match with Rotherham United, though there is a brighter forecast in midfield with Ben Pearson available to feature.

Centre-back Cook left the field early in Saturday's draw against Nottingham Forest with an adductor injury, with new signing Pearson also needing replacing in the second period, though his ankle issue was a only a minor one.

Caretaker manager Jonathan Woodgate looked over his squad ahead of the midweek return to action, with updates on his key injury worries and whether the players concerned are ready to face the Millers. 

"Steve Cook will be two or three weeks I think but Ben Pearson's absolutely fine, he went off with a slight ankle injury but he's fine, and Chris Mepham's fine as well," said Woodgate in his pre-match press conference.

"Dominic Solanke's going to be another couple of weeks, maybe three weeks. Riquelme's back fit, Jack Stacey will be a couple of weeks also.

"Hopefully we can get them all back, we're missing our top goalscorer, we're missing our captain, two players who are vital to the team, but it's an opportunity for other players to come in and stake a claim."

Woodgate, who had a similar injury to Cook during his own playing career, spoke further on his relief at the skipper's diagnosis.

"It's an adductor injury, but the adductor is not as bad as a thigh or a hamstring injury. I know what Steve Cook's like, he'll probably want to try and play on Saturday, that's what kind of character he is.

"But I'd say two or three weeks and you won't be getting me rushing players back with injuries because I know it can be a snowball effect and can be bad for them and bad for the team."

United arrive in Dorset from South Yorkshire on Wednesday with a strike force that could include Matt Crooks and Michael Smith, both over six foot five in height. Woodgate addressed the aerial task his side could face without their defensive leader.

"It's not ideal to miss your main header of the ball in Steve Cook" he said. "He's also not the biggest but he jumps like he's seven foot three, he's aggressive in the air.

"He's a leader but on the other hand you look at Lloyd Kelly who's got to step up. He's got good attributes, can keep on learning and he's got a chance now.

"Next you've got Cameron Carter-Vickers, he's got two clean sheets from the two games he's played, so I'm happy with him. It's going to be a real challenge, they have some really big players in their team so we will need to defend well from set plays."

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