Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has confirmed captain Simon Francis is in contention to face Arsenal after recovering from a hamstring injury and believes the Cherries are in good shape ahead of their trip to north London, despite losing their opening three league matches.
Francis, 32, picked up a hamstring injury during Bournemouth's 1-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the Premier League season but is now back in the mix for Howe's side after making great strides during his rehabilitation.
There were concerns the former Southend United stalwart would miss a significant portion of the season due to the injury, but Howe revealed that his captain came through all the required medical tests and is delighted to be able to call upon him for the clash against Arsenal, who seem to be in the midst of an early-season crisis.
"We're in pretty good shape," Howe said in his press conference. "I've not seen all the international boys yet but the ones I have seen have come back fine which is a plus.
"Simon Francis is in contention and we're really pleased with his rehab. Hamstring injuries are tough to predict and he passed all the tests we expect at this stage. He's a huge player for us, he's our captain and we're really pleased to have him back."
Howe will hope the return of Francis can help Bournemouth secure a good result against Arsenal and kick-start their season. The Cherries have not had the most productive start to the new campaign and will attempt to take advantage of the rather sorry state of affairs at the Emirates Stadium this weekend, but Howe insisted his side will afford Arsenal the respect they deserve and is only focused on preparing his side for the clash in the capital.
"I don't think you can predict good times and bad times to play teams, our only focus is on our preparations," Howe said. "Our training has been very good and I just hope we continue our momentum from the Manchester City game.
"You need to start the game well and stay in the game, it doesn't matter what run of form you're in - you can't give yourself too much to do. There is not just one player that you have to look out for when you play a team like Arsenal. It's the collective as they have a huge amount of quality in a lot of different positions."