The 2018/19 Premier League campaign will be looked back on as a season of what-ifs for Eddie Howe.
When AFC Bournemouth and Fulham last met towards the end of October, the Cherries were sixth in the top flight of English football after over a quarter of the season (10 games).
The Cherries had 20 points on the board and were six points adrift of the top of the Premier League and fifteen points clear of the relegation zone.
The fixtures had fallen nicely for a flying start to AFC Bournemouth’s season, so the league position may have been a little misleading, but the form and the style that the Cherries were playing was the best the side had put together during their four-season run in the Premier League but then injuries began to hit, hard.
Ryan Fraser: "This is the most injuries I've ever seen at a club, not just small injuries but long-term injuries – I don't know why, it seems to be a lot." #AFCB
…. 47 reported during 2018/19.
18 per cent of those have resulted in at least a month out. pic.twitter.com/pv7baODhKL
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) April 20, 2019
The long term casualty list has included Lewis Cook and Simon Francis who have missed the majority of the season and will likely still be missing come the start of the next campaign.
In April alone, AFC Bournemouth have been bludgeoned by injuries in the full back area.
Just two weeks ago against Burnley, the Cherries lost both left backs in the same game to season-ending injuries which will see Charlie Daniels and Deigo Rico battling to be fit for next season.
During the week, Liverpool loanee Nathaniel Clyne suffered a hamstring injury during the open training session at Dean Court and was ruled out.
Adam Smith then suffered an injury during the warm-up ahead of the Brighton game.
Junior Stanislas stepped into the role only to succumb to another injury.
Steve Cook moved across to full back, only to struggle with an injury and whilst he completed the match, he moved back to centre back with Chris Mepham moving across, meaning that Howe was deploying his fourth different right back before the half time whistle had blown.
Not sure how many black cats have crossed Eddie Howe’s path in recent weeks, but Bournemouth’s injury list in full-back positions is now ridiculous.
Clyne (RB) ????
Smith (RB) ????
Rico (LB) ????#afcb
— Chris Wise (@chriswisey) April 20, 2019
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told afcb.co.uk…
“When you lose a player of Adam Smith’s quality before the game it’s going to be difficult for the team. Doubly so to lose Junior Stanislas as well. He’s not necessarily a natural right-back but he’s played the position and done it very well.
“He uses the ball superbly and has the athletic ability to go box-to-box. Upon his injury, we were then left with four centre-backs across our back-line, which is something we would never normally do.
“Those injuries were difficult for us to overcome and we never fully got our rhythm back in the match. We just hope the injuries aren’t serious.
“Nathaniel Clyne has been carrying a hamstring injury for a couple of weeks which is why he missed the game.”
No, fit fullbacks seemingly left at the club, a sketchy performance at best, Fulham laughing at how poor we were to let them get an away win and yet a whole host of scoring opportunities spurned plus Brighton getting a point. Not a good day
After a blistering start, this season has been so frustrating I kind of wish it was over already. I also think the players need a long rest since the number of niggles we keep getting is ridiculous. So regular, it feels like players are coming back too soon after one injury to only then get another.
Lot’s of questions to be answered this summer. Is it a case of getting everyone fit and then minor tweaks in the transfer market to refresh the squad or are more significant changes needed?- Join the conversation, click here.