BOSS Eddie Howe cited the rigours of Championship football as a contributory factor in Cherries’ growing injury list ahead of tonight’s away day at Leeds United (7.45pm).

The Cherries manager confirmed team selection would be left to the last minute to give everyone the best chance of featuring at Elland Road.

Shaun MacDonald was withdrawn from Saturday’s home defeat to Blackburn with a knee problem, while his replacement Richard Hughes is ruled out of the trip to Yorkshire having earned a one-match ban for his second-half dismissal.

Harry Arter has missed the past four matches while Charlie Daniels has not appeared since hobbling off against Barnsley a fortnight ago to further compound the long-term absences of Joe Partington, Matt Ritchie and Wes Fogden.

And while Howe remained optimistic that Cherries’ injury woes would soon subside, the manager admitted he had endured his fair share of selection headaches of late.

“Certainly at this stage of the season, we have got more injuries than we would have liked,” said Howe.

“Competing in this division takes an incredible physical effort. The toll taken on the players has been particularly bigger than what was experienced in League One and that has resulted in a few injuries to key players.

“We have had various problems and our team selection (at Leeds) will be left as late as possible to give everyone the best chance of playing.

“We are going to be stretched numbers-wise and will have to look at it closely before making any decisions.”