Francis injury a huge blow for Bournemouth, says Howe
Defender Francis is facing nine months out with a serious knee injury.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe admits the loss of captain Simon Francis to long-term injury is “a huge blow” for the club.
Defender Francis will be sidelined for up to nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the 5-0 defeat against Tottenham on Boxing Day.
The 33-year-old was carried from the field on a stretcher and scans in London on Wednesday evening revealed the full extent of the damage.
“Simon’s injury is a huge blow for us and for himself,” Howe told a press conference before Sunday’s Premier League game at Manchester United.
“He’s been our leader on the pitch, role model, he’ll be a big miss for the dressing room. (He is) a great professional.”
Francis is the third Cherries player this season to have suffered a serious knee injury, with fellow defender Adam Smith and midfielder Lewis Cook both long-term absentees, while Dan Gosling is also out with a knee problem.
The loss of Francis has left Howe without a recognised right-back as his side bid to close the year on a positive note.
“I’ve had the conversations about injuries,” Howe said. “They’re all body weight injuries really.
“Unfortunately for us it’s just a cruel twist of fate that we have the injuries we have had.”
The Cherries’ defeat to Spurs at Wembley was their seventh in nine Premier League matches.
That run has seen them slip into the bottom half of the table after a flying start to the campaign, but Howe’s side are a healthy 14 points above the bottom three.
United appear to have been transformed after sacking Jose Mourinho and placing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge until the end of the season.
Solskjaer is chasing a third straight win after respective 5-1 and 3-1 victories at Cardiff and against Huddersfield on Boxing Day.
“Sunday will be a tough game. Whenever you go to Old Trafford it’s a tough assignment,” Howe said.
“We’re looking forward to rising to the challenge, they’ve had two good results.”
Howe is determined not to let his side’s poor recent run and latest injury setback derail their season.
“We’d love to elevate our position of course, we’re still in control of what we do this season,” he added.
“That’s important and we’re always striving to improve.”