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First team

Team news: King hopeful, Ake facing spell out

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has confirmed Nathan Ake is set for a spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

Ake limped off during the first half of the Cherries’ 3-0 defeat by Liverpool six days ago after damaging the muscle as he challenged Mohamed Salah.

The Netherlands international was this week assessed by the club’s medical staff and is expected to remain sidelined until mid to late January.

Addressing the media this morning, Howe said: “It was relatively good news on Nathan’s scan. The trouble with hamstring injuries is it’s very difficult to give definitive timelines.

“It will depend on how he feels. But I think we’re looking at about six weeks, that’s conservative. Nathan could come back sooner than that but I think six weeks is probably a fair timeline.

“He presented like it was going to be a really bad one, the scan showed it was a grade two tear.

“But we’ve had further opinions and think we can get him back pretty quickly. But with these injuries, you have to be careful. You never quite know with a hamstring whether it’s fully healed or not so we will look at six weeks.”

Ake will be joined on the sidelines for tomorrow’s trip to his former club Chelsea by fellow central defender Steve Cook who this week had surgery on his fractured wrist.

Cook has missed the Cherries’ past two games since sustaining the injury during the 3-2 defeat by Tottenham at the end of last month.

In giving an update on Cook’s situation, Howe also commented on the possibility of him playing wearing a cast: “Again, it’s pretty good news and we hope to get him back reasonably quickly.

“At some stage, yes (he could play wearing a cast). Not immediately but, at some stage, hopefully, we’ll get him back on the pitch.”

Howe also delivered encouraging news on the fitness of Adam Smith who suffered an ankle injury during the defeat at Crystal Palace 10 days ago: “At one stage, it looked like Adam might have to have an operation on his ankle and that would have meant maybe ten to 12 weeks.

“Hopefully, he’s got away without having to have the operation which halves the time so, again, it’s positive news with Adam.”

Howe said Joshua King could be in contention to face Chelsea after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Callum Wilson, who felt his hamstring against Liverpool, could be available over the festive period.

On Wilson, he said: “I don’t think it’s a serious injury. He felt tightness in his hamstring. Looking at the scan, it was very minimal so we hope to get him back very quickly.”

And on King, Howe said: “He’s got a chance. He has come through the various things that we needed him to. He hasn’t had a great deal of time on the training pitch but what he has done, he’s done well.”

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