LUCKLESS Cherries defender Elliott Ward looks set for another extended spell on the sidelines after aggravating a knee injury.

Ward appeared to have overcome the problem after hitting the comeback trail and returning to action during Cherries’ League Cup win at Exeter a fortnight ago.

But the 29-year-old, who played no part in any of Cherries’ pre-season friendlies, was referred to a specialist after the joint had swelled following the first round clash at St James’ Park.

Ward initially sustained the damage to his right knee when he collided with an advertising hoarding in a 1-0 home defeat by Leicester at the start of February.

He was out for 11 weeks before earning a recall for Cherries’ 2-2 draw at Ipswich on Easter Monday, only for his knee to flare up following the Portman Road encounter.

Ward went under the knife in May and was rewarded for working tirelessly on his rehabilitation by being named on the bench for Cherries’ Championship opener at Huddersfield. But after feeling discomfort in his knee following his 90-minute run out at Exeter, Ward was sent to Italy where he was assessed by medics at the Villa Stuart Sport Clinic in Rome.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe told the Daily Echo: “Elliott has seen a couple of specialists to see what the next course of action is going to be. We are still not sure what is going to happen with him but he is going to be out for a period of time.”

Ward, who spent six weeks on the sidelines after pulling his calf muscle at Burnley in November, may require a second operation to repair the damage.