(Reuters) - Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe is in contention to face Huddersfield Town in the Premier League on Saturday after recovering from a muscle injury although fellow forward Josh King faces a late fitness test, manager Eddie Howe said.
Afobe limped off in last month’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea and missed Bournemouth’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United before the international break.
His return is a big boost for Howe, whose team are perched just above the relegation zone and have been devastated by a spate of injuries to their forward line.
King, who has started nine games for the club this season, is touch and go for Saturday after aggravating a persistent back injury that forced him out of international duty with Norway.
“Benik Afobe is back in contention after an injury, but there will be a late call on Josh King,” Howe told a news conference on Friday. “(King) hasn’t trained this week.”
Winger Junior Stanislas is also unavailable due to a groin injury.
The south coast club, who won promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2015, have confounded many pundits by staying in the Premier League since, but their current slump has put their manager under early pressure.
Bournemouth are 17th, with three wins, a draw and seven defeats, but with trips to Swansea City and Crystal Palace, and home games against Southampton and Burnley coming up, Howe says they are in the middle of a potentially pivotal run.
“The run of games we’re going through now will define our season. It’s a dangerous game. We don’t cut corners on any team. We know the importance of this game,” he said.
Huddersfield are 10th in the table, with five points more than Bournemouth after 11 games and Howe has been impressed by what he has seen so far from David Wagner’s promoted side.
“They’re a threatening team, they get bodies forward,” Howe added.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis