CHERRIES manager Eddie Howe has described as a “big miss” the loss to injury of versatile performer Adam Smith.

Smith is facing an anxious wait to discover whether his season may have come to a premature end after sustaining medial ligament damage to his knee.

The 26-year-old suffered the injury in a robust first-half challenge with Jake Livermore during Cherries’ 2-1 win over West Brom a fortnight ago.

And although he continued playing following a lengthy spell of treatment, Smith was eventually forced off 12 minutes into the second half.

The severity of the injury prevented Smith from joining his team-mates at their warm-weather training camp in Dubai during the international break.

Smith was fitted with a knee brace and was told he would not be permitted to fly with the rest of the squad to the United Arab Emirates.

Although boss Howe was reluctant to put an exact time frame on Smith’s absence, he estimated the player could be sidelined for between four to six weeks.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “Adam has a problem with his medial ligaments so is going to be out for a few weeks.

“We hope it is not his season and think he will be back before the end. But it is a big disappointment for him and us.

“He was in a knee brace until earlier this week but is out of it now. It is difficult to give an exact time frame but I think we are looking at around four to six weeks.

“He is going to be a big miss. He has been playing very well in a number of positions and his versatility has been really important.

“We will also miss him because of his character. He is very lively and a really positive guy to be around.”

Cherries are also sweating on the availability of captain Simon Francis and striker Lys Mousset ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League showdown at Watford.

Francis, whose next appearance will be his 100th in the top flight, was also a casualty of Cherries’ victory over the Baggies 13 days ago.

He succumbed to a hamstring injury after just 17 minutes and was replaced by Charlie Daniels, who came on to play his 99th game in the Premier League.

Francis received extensive treatment during Cherries’ training camp in Dubai and is rated by Howe as “touch and go” to be fit to face the Hornets.

Howe added: “Simon had a minor strain of his hamstring. It was really good for him that we had the two-week break and we hope he makes it. If he doesn’t, he should be available for next week.”

Mousset, meanwhile, picked up what Howe described as a “nasty illness” while on international duty with France under-21s.

It prevented the frontman from featuring in European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Montenegro.

He reported back to Vitality Stadium yesterday and was immediately sent home after seeing the club doctor. A late decision was expected to be made as to whether he would travel with the squad to Watford.