CHERRIES skipper Simon Francis has been ruled out for between six and nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Tottenham.

Boss Eddie Howe's worst fears were confirmed by the results of a scan, which revealed the 33-year-old had sustained the same injury as team-mate Lewis Cook had during the win over Huddersfield at the beginning of this month.

Defender Francis is the third Cherries player to suffer a major knee problem this season, with Cook and Adam Smith both going under the knife in the past six weeks.

Francis was forced off during the first half of yesterday’s 5-0 Premier League defeat to Spurs, having fallen awkwardly on the Wembley Stadium turf while tracking forward Son Heung-min.

Howe is now without a recognised right-back in one of the busiest periods of the campaign.

The boss told the club website: “We are devastated to have lost Simon to a serious knee injury.

“It is a huge blow to lose our captain and someone who has performed so well for the team over a long period of time.

“There is a long road ahead but Simon is a model professional who has a positive mindset and is surrounded by good people. I know he will leave no stone unturned in order to get back as soon as possible.

“He will receive the best possible medical care as well as the love and support of everyone at the club.”

Cherries suffered three serious knee injuries during their first season in the top flight.

Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel endured lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Wilson sustained a second rupture in February last year.