Coach Shaun Cooper hailed Corey Jordan “a great leader” but revealed AFC Bournemouth would be without their inspirational skipper for tomorrow’s Premier League Cup clash with Southampton.
Jordan, who has captained Cherries under-21s during their unbeaten run in the competition this season, has been ruled out of the eagerly-awaited Vitality Stadium showdown due to a minor hip injury.
The 20-year-old has been a mainstay of the Cherries defence as they have climbed to the top of Group E with wins over Nottingham Forest (twice), Southampton and a draw against Stoke City.
Jordan will be restricted to a watching brief as Cooper’s team look to book a place in the knockout stages by avoiding defeat against Southampton (7pm kick-off).
Cooper, who captained the Cherries to their legendary Greatest Escape in 2008/09, told afcb.co.uk:
“Corey has been unfortunate with his injury but he’s coming along nicely.
“It’s not as bad as we first feared so it’s just a case of managing his symptoms and building him back up slowly. He’s had some soreness in his hips and we’ve had to manage him carefully.
“The weather we’ve had recently has meant we’ve had to train a lot on a 3G pitch which can be aggravating for certain injuries. It’s something a lot of players have to deal with.
“Corey has been brilliant for us this season and has taken to the captaincy’s role very well. He’s a great leader and that has really come to the fore this season.
“His unavailability will open the door of opportunity for someone else. I’ve no doubt whoever comes in will do a good job and Corey will be there to support them.”
Cooper will also be without the services of Frank Vincent, Charlie Seaman, George Hunt and Keelan O’Connell, who are at different stages of their respective rehabilitations.
While Vincent (Torquay) and Seaman (Maidstone) are currently on loan, they would have been eligible to feature in the Premier League Cup.
Giving an update on the condition of the quartet, Cooper added: “Keelan has a problem with his quad.
“He has been unlucky because he came back, had a couple of appearances from the bench and was looking good. He was looking bright and sharp, as he always does. He’s just had a minor setback so we’re managing him.
“George is on the comeback trail. Again, the change of surface due to the weather hasn’t helped him but he’s making progress and, hopefully, we’ll have him back training soon.
“Charlie had a hamstring problem which has healed quicker than we expected. He’s making good progress, he’s running and is very close to training.
“Frank is also not too far away after recovering from his ankle injury and is coming on nicely.
“Once they are fit, they will train with us initially. When they get the all-clear and they feel ready, they will go back to their loan clubs.”
Despite the injuries, Cooper has a strong squad to select from as the Cherries bid to follow up their 2-0 win over Southampton at AFC Totton at the start of December.
He added: “I’m hoping we’re going to have some strong forward players on show and will look to play our usual fluid, attacking style of football if we can. Out of possession, we’ll work hard, press high with intensity and do everything we usually do.
“For some of our boys, it will be the biggest crowd they have played in front of. In the games we’ve had here so far, the crowds have been good and have created an atmosphere which our players have really enjoyed.
“With Southampton being a local team, it will add a little more spice. But I look at the type of characters we’ve got and think it’s something they will relish and be an occasion they will rise to. I think we’ll see the best of them.”