Dan Gosling is unlikely to be fit for resurgent Bournemouth's Saturday teatime (8 April) date with Premier League leaders Chelsea, manager Eddie Howe has confirmed. The versatile midfielder missed the midweek draw against Liverpool at Anfield due to a knock sustained during a south coast derby stalemate at Southampton.
With Andrew Surman potentially out for the remainder of the 2016-17 campaign due to a knee problem, Bournemouth's midfield depth is likely to tested between now and the end of May. Arsenal loanee Jack Wilshere and Harry Arter seem set to feature again against Antonio Conte's title favourites with the exact nature of Gosling's injury yet to be fully determined.
"Gosling is 50/50 probably," Howe told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "It's going to be difficult for him to be involved so soon. But we'll wait and see. We'll obviously give him every chance to declare himself fit."
Asked what exactly the issue was, he added: "He just took a whack to his knee, so we're not quite sure what the damage is. I think he's had a scan, so we'll wait and see."
Surman will obviously play no part against Chelsea, while long-term knee injury victims Adam Federici, Callum Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins all remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Junior Stanislas may return following a groin problem and fellow winger Ryan Fraser could be promoted back to the starting XI after only appearing as a second-half substitute on Merseyside.
"Ryan's fit, it was just a case of managing his load on the back of no training and the injury that he had. We just felt it prudent not to play him three times in a week. We'll wait and see on our team selection."
Howe refused to be drawn on the lack of regular first-team opportunities at Chelsea for ex-Bournemouth loanee Nathan Ake, who, after an initially slow start, impressed in 12 appearances for the Cherries before being recalled early by his parent club during the early stages of the January transfer window. The Dutch U21 international has not played a single minute of top-flight football since returning to Stamford Bridge, instead making just a pair of appearances in the FA Cup.
"It's difficult for me to comment on that," Howe said. "The first thing I'd say is we're very thankful to Chelsea for loaning him to us in the first place. I think there has to be that element of trust that we're going to look after one of their brightest prospects. We were very appreciative of the loan.
"We were of course disappointed to lose him, because he was an integral part of our team. But that's Chelsea's right. [He's] their player, they could recall him. I've got no problem with it. But obviously it impacted on us on that time, we've missed him. Not just on the pitch but off the pitch, because he's a great lad and he fitted so well into our team."
Quizzed as to whether or not he intended to pursue a permanent summer deal for Ake, Howe replied: "Our only focus at the moment is on trying to stay in the league and trying to get as many points as we can. We will review our summer recruitment at the appropriate time."