Injuries to duo Charlie Daniels and Tommy Elphick left Howe with no option other than to change his consistent backline.
The pair, together with Simon Francis and Steve Cook, had played a major role in Cherries’ push for League One honours under Howe.
However, foot injury victim Daniels has been unavailable since sitting out the Dorset club’s home clash with Crewe on January 26.
His absence was compounded by stand-in skipper Elphick being sidelined following Ryan Lowe’s X-rated tackle at MK Dons on February 2.
Boss Howe has drafted in loan cover in Dan Seaborne and Marcos Painter and he admits the performances of his defence will be crucial to success.
Howe said: “It has been difficult because we had a really settled back four and a back four that was performing very well.
“If ever there are positions in the team that you don’t really want to tinker with too much, it is in defence because that is the bedrock of your success.
“We had injuries to two key players but that is the game and that is what happens to every team. We have just got to make sure that we get that solid look back again.”
While left-back Daniels is resting in a bid to avoid an operation, centre-half Elphick is expected to miss a further two to four weeks.
Howe added: “It is disappointing to lose Tommy because he has been an outstanding player for us.
“Not only that, he has been an outstanding leader and captain for us. We will try to get him back as quickly as we can.”