Bournemouth have suffered a blow ahead of Saturday’s match against Premier League champions Manchester City with news that Marcus Tavernier is once again out with a hamstring problem.
The 23-year-old forward made his first start since November and scored what proved to be the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Wolves, but he did not finish the match after suffering an injury to the other hamstring to the one that kept him out previously.
Tavernier underwent tests during the week and although Gary O’Neil would not put a timetable on his absence, the Bournemouth boss did confirm he will not be fit for Saturday’s early evening kick-off.
“Tav was coming off (at Wolves) anyway, before he got injured,” he said. “It was his first game back, so we had the subs ready and then Tav felt a pain in the other hamstring.
“He wasn’t sure if it was a contact. He’s had a few things go on this week. He’s had some tests and things done, there’s a few more to be done early next week.
“We’re hopeful that it’s not too serious. But it’s the other side. So we’re hopeful that he’ll be back soon, but he won’t play a part this weekend.
“Tav came back, scored the winning goal and was a threat when he carried the ball for us. As I said on the day, I didn’t think he was back to his best, but he definitely helped us. So losing Tav is a blow, of course.”
O’Neil called second-placed City “the best team in the country” as he looked at the challenge to come, but the mood within the Bournemouth camp has been positive this week after only their fifth win of the campaign.
“Winning football matches always gives the place a lift, of course,” O’Neil said.
“Results-wise, we were on a tricky run, but I felt it was what the lads deserved for the work they always put in, although definitely since Nottingham Forest.
“We’ve managed to turn performances a little bit and look a little bit more of a threat.”
The three points earned at Molineux lifted the Cherries out of the bottom three, one point above 18th-placed West Ham, but O’Neil played down the importance of that at this stage.
“The league position in February is irrelevant, really,” he said. “Of course, where you are has an impact on where you finish, I understand that, but the fact that you jump out by a point or you fall back in by a point and if you go up and down with that, then you’re going to go up and down a lot.
“I’m hopeful that we can keep going upwards, of course, but the small changes in league position and some teams kicking off before us or after us will have no impact on how I feel about our results.
“I’ll always judge us on what we’ve done. Wolves was a fantastic victory as I was delighted for the lads and delighted for the supporters. We’re looking to add more.”