Tyrone Mings
Tyrone Mings has not played for Bournemouth since suffering a back injury in September ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Bournemouth will welcome Adam Smith back into the fold for a tough run of pre-festive Premier League fixtures that begins with a trip to Manchester United on Wednesday night (13 December), although long-term absentee Tyrone Mings has suffered a setback in his recovery.

The 14th-place Cherries, who claimed a hard-earned point at Crystal Palace at the weekend thanks to evergreen striker Jermain Defoe and a botched injury-time penalty from Christian Benteke, face a particularly gruelling stretch between now and Christmas, with their journey to Old Trafford followed by a Carabao Cup quarter-final meeting with Chelsea and a clash against runaway leaders Manchester City.

Eddie Howe's side sustained no further casualties during what was a thrilling contest at Selhurst Park, though left-back Smith missed the match after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season in the 1-1 draw with Southampton.

"We have nothing fresh," the manager told reporters at his pre-United press conference on Tuesday morning. "We came through the game okay.

"We have a few tired legs and a few knocks, but nothing major came out of the game."

Bournemouth confirmed via their official website that Mings had felt further discomfort and was set to "seek specialist opinion on the issue". The versatile defender has not played a single minute of football since early September, when he suffered a back injury just weeks after signing a new long-term contract.

Howe had expressed hope that former Ipswich Town centre-back Mings, who has made just three appearances in 2017-18 and previously snapped knee ligaments just six minutes into his Bournemouth debut two years ago, was "getting closer" and "building up his fitness levels".

Just last week, he said: "He needs to be ready as quickly as we can get him."

Goalkeeper Adam Federici is expected to return to Bournemouth training soon following the meniscus injury sustained on international duty that ended his four-month loan spell at Nottingham Forest after less than a fortnight in September. However, fellow Australian Brad Smith will remain sidelined against United and for the foreseeable future with a hip problem picked up during the Socceroos' World Cup play-off tie against Syria.

Howe, who was full of praise for Defoe's performance at Palace and dismissed the idea that Wilfried Zaha should face any retrospective FA action for the second penalty earned on Saturday, also claimed that midfielder Harry Arter would be given an opportunity to shine over the coming weeks after a frustrating period on the bench.

"He's responded very well, he is a key player for us and I think every one knows how highly I regard him," he said. "Andrew Surman and Lewis Cook have performed very well recently so he has to force his way back in, but with the games coming up I'm sure he'll get his chance."

Lewis Grabban's future was also discussed as we edge closer towards the January transfer window. The 29-year-old striker, out of contract at the end of the season, has scored 11 goals while on loan to a Sunderland side struggling at the wrong end of the Championship table and Howe admitted that talks would be held in the New Year.

"With Lewis, we will make the right decision for him and for us," he added. "I think it will be something we will sit down and talk about. We have got some excellent strikers here. I have got some real options in that position, especially when you consider you have got the quality of Lys Mousset who is out of the squad at the moment.

"That is something for a later date when we will have a chat with Grabbs."