FRANK Demouge faces an anxious wait to discover whether he has suffered another setback in his bid to regain full fitness after being forced off during Cherries’ friendly at Exeter today.

The luckless Dutch striker, who has endured an injury-ravaged start to his career at Goldsands Stadium, was substituted at the interval after taking a knock early in the first half.

Demouge had been hoping to impress watching Cherries boss Eddie Howe but his chance to stake a claim was hampered after he took a heavy blow to the calf inside the opening minutes.

And despite trying to play through the pain barrier for the remainder of the first half at the Grecians’ training ground, the 30-year-old eventually succumbed at the break and was replaced by Ryan Case.

Demouge, who missed the start of the season due to a knee problem, made his eagerly-awaited debut in Cherries’ 2-1 defeat by Walsall at the end of September.

However, he suffered concussion in his next appearance and was forced off during the early stages of the 3-1 reverse at Crawley, which proved to be Paul Groves’s final game as manager.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Cherries boss Howe said: “We don’t know the extent of Frank’s injury and will have to assess him in the morning.”

Howe and assistant Jason Tindall took the opportunity to cast their eye over a number of squad players as Cherries battled out a 1-1 draw with Exeter.

Striker Wes Thomas, who recently enjoyed a fruitful loan spell with Portsmouth, grabbed Cherries’ equaliser in the 74th minute following good work by Eunan O’Kane.

Thomas and O’Kane were joined in the starting line-up by first teamers Lorenzo Davids, Stephane Zubar, Joe Partington, Mark Molesley, Wes Fogden and Donal McDermott.

Howe added: “It was a good, competitive game and a lot of the players needed the work-out. Certain players haven’t played a lot of football so it was good for them to get minutes under their belt and they will all benefit.”

Asked specifically about Molesley, Howe said: “He played 90 minutes and it will do him the world of good because that is really what he needs. I thought he did well.”

Meanwhile, Howe confirmed he had shelved plans to possibly bring in a loan player to cover for right-back Simon Francis.

Francis was ruled out of Cherries’ trip to Doncaster due to a hip problem and there were concerns he could have been set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

However, although the injury is not as serious as had been first feared, Francis remains a major doubt for Cherries’ forthcoming Goldsands Stadium double-header against Oldham and Stevenage.

Howe watched Chelsea under-21s host Crystal Palace on Monday, although reports suggesting he is preparing to make a loan move for Blues pair Billy Clifford and George Saville are understood to be wide of the mark.

Cherries: Tierney, Cargill (Bassele, 85), Zubar (Strugnell, 60), Partington, Molesley, O'Kane, Davids, Fogden (Makoni, 85), McDermott, Thomas, Demouge (Case, h-t).