Josh King
Eddie Howe does not believe Bournemouth striker Josh King's back injury to be anything serious Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Bournemouth striker Josh King is a doubt for Saturday's (28 October) Premier League clash against Chelsea, although Cherries boss Eddie Howe expects to have veteran Jermain Defoe fit for the visit of the defending champions to the Vitality Stadium.

King was sidelined for Norway's final 2018 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland due to a hamstring complaint sustained in the drubbing of minnows San Marino, but returned to play 90 minutes for his club in their first post-international break meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

However, he subsequently missed the morale-boosting top-flight victory at Stoke City and the Carabao Cup fourth round defeat of Middlesbrough due to illness.

Howe now reports that King is suffering with a recurring back issue that, while not though to be serious, will require specialist attention. He seems unlikely to play against Chelsea this weekend, while long-term absentees Brad Smith, Tyrone Mings and Adam Federici all remain out.

Callum Wilson could make his first start for nine months after returning from a second anterior cruciate ligament injury with an eye-catching display in midweek.

"We've still got the long-term injuries not available," Howe told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning. "Joshua King is a doubt and we'll have to make a late call on him.

"He's missed the last two games with illness but now has a back problem. He was feeling it in pre-season and he'll be seeing a specialist this week. We don't think it's anything serious, but it's resurfaced and leaves him a doubt for this game."

Diminutive winger Ryan Fraser could also miss out against Chelsea due to an unspecified knock sustained before his 77th-minute substitution on Tuesday, yet Defoe should be back in contention. Like fellow forward King, the 35-year-old, sent on as a late replacement at former club Tottenham, has been absent for each of the last two games due to hamstring trouble.

"Ryan Fraser also took a knock in midweek - but Jermain should be fine for the game," Howe added.

Goal-shy Bournemouth, currently 19th in the Premier League after collecting just seven points from their opening nine matches, will approach a tough weekend assignment against their Carabao Cup quarter-final opponents with renewed confidence after successive victories.

"There's been a boost in the squad, we've been really pleased with the last two results," the manager said. "We now move onto another big game here, the mood here's very good.

"It's a long season and we didn't want to become detached, so the Stoke win was important. More importantly it was about building confidence and getting the good feeling back in the squad, that's been carried through this week as well."

On his changing selection, Howe said: "I've always felt this season we have a strong squad and that's been shown this week. we don't have an 11 that picks itself at the moment. Hopefully the selection headaches will continue through the season. I don't think everyone's playing to their full potential yet, but hopefully we'll get to that point soon.

"We don't have a favoured starting 11 and I don't think we will, the days are gone when you play 11 players each week. In the Championship we had a core group of 15 or 16 players but the Premier League requires different things so we're prepared to change."