BOSS Eddie Howe admitted the injury loss of Adam Smith ahead of kick-off against Fulham had made it “difficult for the team”.

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s second-half spot-kick at Vitality Stadium earned the relegated Cottagers their first away Premier League victory of the season with a 1-0 win.

Full-back Smith had been set start the contest but was ruled out of the squad on the 11th hour with a knee problem.

Howe’s defensive options were made even more limited when makeshift right-back Junior Stanislas – who had replaced Smith – was also forced off after 23 minutes with a knee complaint.

Howe said: “I think naturally, when you lose a player of Adam’s quality before the game, that was difficult for the team.

“It was then doubly difficult to then lose Junior as well.

“Junior is not necessarily a natural right-back but he’s played the position and done it very well. He uses the ball superbly and has the athletic ability to go box-to-box.

“Upon that injury we were then left with four centre-halves across our backline and we would never normally line up that way.

“That was a difficult one to overcome, we never fully got our rhythm back in the match and we just hope the injuries aren’t serious.”

On the game as a whole, Howe added: “It was hugely frustrating, especially after the back of last week where we were so good.

“We started the first half really well and I thought it was going to be a really good day for us. We were sharp with the ball, created opportunities and I think that’s the thing we have to look at.

“The amount of presentable opportunities we had and the fact we didn’t score after being so clinical last week was a difficult one to work out.”

The Cherries boss also confirmed Nathaniel Clyne had been ruled out with a hamstring problem.