CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe is hoping defender Elliott Ward could return to action within a month following a favourable prognosis on his knee injury.

Ward damaged his right knee when he collided with an advertising hoarding during Cherries’ defeat by Leicester and there were fears his season may have come to a premature end.

But following detailed investigation at the Villa Stuart Sport Clinic in Rome and by another specialist in London, Cherries are confident Ward can avoid going under the knife.

The 29-year-old was given the news yesterday during an appointment with a consultant he has used for most of his career when he also had an injection.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “Hopefully, we are looking at four weeks. Elliott will have a couple of weeks’ rest followed by a further two weeks to build up his fitness.”

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.

Howe said he had no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow's visit of the high-flying Clarets to Dean Court.