CHERRIES star Elliott Ward faces an anxious wait to discover whether his season may have come to a premature end following a freak injury.

Ward damaged his right knee when he collided with an advertising hoarding during Cherries’ 1-0 defeat by Leicester at Dean Court nine days ago.

And although he managed to complete 90 minutes against the Foxes, his knee subsequently swelled up and he was referred to a specialist after having a scan.

Ward saw a consultant in London on Thursday and will this week fly to Italy to undergo further tests at the FIFA-accredited Villa Stuart Sport Clinic in Rome.

News of Ward’s predicament was revealed by the Daily Echo on our website ahead of Cherries’ 2-2 draw against Bolton at the Reebok on Saturday.

Boss Eddie Howe, speaking to the media after goals from Lewis Grabban and Simon Francis had earned Cherries a deserved share of the points, said: “Elliott has had a scan and been to see a specialist. We are comparing the results of the scan with an old one because it didn’t show clearly what the problem was, although it looks like there might be a slight issue.

“He is going to Italy for another opinion. We are hopeful he will not need to go under the knife but we need to get him checked out by the best specialists in the world because he is a very important player for us and we don’t want to dive in if we don’t need to.

“If there is no surgery then I wouldn’t think it would be a lengthy lay-off. If he were to need surgery, it might be the rest of the season.”

Asked whether he would enter the loan market should Ward be ruled out long term, Howe said: “It would leave us light defensively because we also have Charlie Daniels injured at the moment.

“We will wait and see. The two centre-halves did a lot better in the second half against Bolton so I don’t think we are in any rush to change the starting line-up. If we were to get injuries, both Ian Harte and Simon Francis could play there so we do have a couple of options.”

Ward, who has turned in a series of solid displays since joining Cherries in the summer, was sidelined for six weeks earlier this season after pulling his calf muscle at Burnley in November.