Christian Atsu, whose game-time has been limited to two League Cup appearances since he joined Bournemouth on a season-long loan from Chelsea, has returned to Stamford Bridge for treatment after picking up a stress fracture while on international duty in September.
The Ghanaian returned to his parent club a month ago and could remain there for another four weeks, according to the Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe.
“He picked up a knock on international duty, that’s why he hasn’t been seen and is now back at Chelsea for treatment,” Howe said before Sunday’s meeting with neighbours Southampton.
“This has been dragging on for about six weeks. He got a knock on his shin in the first international break that put him out for a couple of weeks and then he got kicked again a couple of weeks after and that has resulted in him having to go back to Chelsea for treatment.
“Unfortunately we haven’t seen Christian here for about a month. It’s going to take time for him to get fit again. It has been a real shame. The timeframe is unknown at the moment but it is a stress fracture on his shin. We don’t think it is anything serious, there will be no long-term problems but he may be back at Chelsea for another three to four weeks.
Atsu, who suffered through pre-season with a back problem, has not played since featuring in the Capital One Cup win over Preston on 22 September.
Howe, however, is looking forward to welcoming him back when the 23-year-old returns to fitness.
“He’s a very talented player and the big disappointment for us is that every time we have got him fit and conditioned to play he has then picked up – due to no fault of his own – an injury. He has been very upbeat, he is a lovely character. He played well in the two Capital One Cup games – we would love to see more of him.”