Chelsea have suffered a bitter blow after it was revealed that transfer target Nathan Ake is set to be sidelined for up to six weeks.
The defender was substituted with a hamstring injury during Bournemouth’s 3-0 defeat against Liverpool last weekend.
Ake, 24, was sent for a scan and it was confirmed on Friday that the former Chelsea player will not be available again until next year.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, who takes his struggling side to Chelsea on Saturday, will also be without the injured Steve Cook.
“To lose those two players is a big blow,” said Howe. “The trouble with hamstring injuries is that it is very difficult to give definitive timelines. It depends on how Nathan feels but I think we’re looking at about six weeks. That’s conservative. Nathan could come back sooner than that.
“He presented like it was going to be a really bad one. The scan showed it was a grade two – without going too technical – but then we’ve had further opinions and we think we can get him back pretty quickly.
“But with these injuries you do have to be careful. You never quite know with a hamstring whether it’s fully healed or not.”
Ake’s absence from Bournemouth’s visit of Chelsea and the ensuing festive schedule heaps further misery on the south coast club following five successive league defeats.
The Cherries travel to Stamford Bridge just one point above the relegation zone.
But a bullish Howe, who has kept Bournemouth in the Premier League since their promotion in 2015, said: “In these moments I like to think that’s where I try to be at my best because this is the most challenging moment.
“When you lead the team and you are being asked questions, people will doubt you and you go through a whole host of different emotions.
“That is when you have to be at your strongest and most resilient. I would like to think I have handled these situations before and I can do it again.
“It is about being consistent with the players, not ripping up everything that you believe in, not listening to the noise around you and getting the best out of every single player that we have here. That is my biggest task and we will be fine.
“Frank Lampard and his team have done so well. It’s a different Chelsea this season but still a very effective team. Yet we feel, if we’re at our best, we can beat anyone.”