REUTERS – Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe says his “biggest challenge” is to find the right balance in his squad, which has been hit by an injury crisis.
The club have already seen their record signing Tyrone Mings ruled out for the season, while leading scorer Callum Wilson and summer recruit Max Gradel will be out of action for at least six months.
Captain Tommy Elphick is also on the treatment table after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month.
After losing their last two Premier League games 5-1 to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, the Cherries have conceded the most goals in the league, along with Newcastle United, and find themselves only one place above the relegation zone after 10 games.
“It is a tough division and we were well aware of what we were going into,” Howe was quoted as saying by the British media.
“The euphoria at the end of last season was well justified but, on the back of that, came an incredible challenge and one that will probably be the hardest of my management time here — to try to build a team that can be competitive at this level.
“The injuries have really rocked us. We have lost a bit of our identity and losing key personnel has changed a lot about the side and that is not ideal for us.
“It has been difficult at times to try to find the right balance as we look to take the team forward. My biggest challenge now is to try to rediscover the balance with different personnel,” he added.
Howe will hope to get the right balance when Bournemouth travel to face eighth-placed Southampton on Sunday.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)