CHERRIES boss Kevin Bond has been rocked by news that key defender Warren Cummings will be ruled out until after Christmas.

Cummings will have surgery later this month to remove a plate from the left leg that he fractured at Swindon 20 months ago.

The Scotsman had been bravely playing through the pain barrier and was hoping to delay the operation until the end of the season.

But he has now been forced to concede defeat and will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks once he has gone under the surgeon's knife.

However, Cummings will remain in the squad until the plate comes out - which should be in the next fortnight - and will continue to make himself available for selection.

Bond told the Daily Echo: "Warren came to me after the Millwall game on Tuesday and said his leg had been giving him a lot of pain. In fairness, he's been suffering in silence.

"He knew the plate had to come out but was hoping he could get through to the end of the season. But it's playing him up and it needs to be removed now.

"By his own admission, it's affecting him. Before he broke his leg, I remember him being one of the best left-backs in the league and, understandably, he's not hit the same heights since.

"He's in a lot of pain and it's been inhibiting him. There's no point in him carrying on because we're not getting the best out of him so we need to bite the bullet.

"He will be very much part of our set-up until he has the operation. But now he's come to me and said he doesn't feel he's doing himself justice, I will need to take that into consideration."

Although Cummings has travelled with the squad for tonight's League One clash at Swansea, he is expected to be replaced by Welshman Callum Hart at the Liberty Stadium (7.45pm).

However, boss Bond has until three hours before kick-off to bolster his squad with the addition of emergency loan signings and has confirmed he is "working on it".

Bond had initially been targeting a striker but with Cummings and midfielder Danny Hollands (groin) both struggling, he may be forced to re-adjust his sights.

Injury-ravaged Cherries head to South Wales bidding to win for the first time under Bond who watched the Swans beat Millwall 2-0 in their last home game a fortnight ago.

He said: "I think they are the best-equipped squad in the league and they seem to be finding a bit of form. They are very strong and were most impressive when I saw them."

n Cherries' non-contract defender Jack Haverson is training with Ryman League outfit Ashford and could line up in their FA Trophy clash against Margate on Sunday.