EDDIE Howe insists Cherries can remain "very competent defensively" despite the absence of key midfielder Jefferson Lerma.

The Colombian is set for serve a one-match ban tomorrow when Howe takes his side to St James' Park to face Newcastle United (3pm).

Lerma, who netted against the Magpies last season, collected his fifth yellow card of the campaign following an altercation with Anthony Martial during Cherries' 1-0 win over Manchester United last weekend, the team's third clean sheet in succession.

Dan Gosling could make his return from injury to fill the void, with Lewis Cook also a likely candidate to partner Philip Billing in central midfield.

Asked if the side would have to set up differently to cope without Lerma, Howe told the Daily Echo: "I wouldn't say it necessarily changes how we set up.

"But they're different players - Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling to Jefferson, they've all got different strengths.

"They've all got different qualities but they all add to the group in some way. I just think we would end up producing a slightly different performance, but it can still be effective.

"There are no reasons why any of those players can't come in and make the team still very competent defensively."

Gosling has not featured for Cherries since April due to injury concerns, including a hip problem which required surgery in July.

But Howe insists the 29-year-old is ready to make his return.

Asked if Gosling could start against his former club Newcastle, Howe said: "I think he could. I think the good thing is we've got a couple of options to choose from.

"Dan hasn't played for a period of time, but I'd say he's one of the fittest members of the squad.

"Historically he's always been hugely impressive physically, so I'd say he's ready to play."

He added: "Dan’s trained for the last couple of weeks and I think it’s been great because he adds that experience and positivity to the group.

"He’s trained at a really high level as well so it’s been great to see he’s come back and hit the ground running straightaway."

Cherries have made a strong start to the campaign away from home, picking up seven points already with wins at Aston Villa and Southampton as well as a goalless draw against Watford.

And Howe has been pleased with the side's form on their travels.

He said: "I think it’s very important that away from home we have the confidence and the ability to go anywhere and get results.

"Looking back this season away from home I do think we’ve been competitive. I’ve been pleased with our resilience on the road.

"Going back to our last away game against Watford I felt we could’ve won the game.

"We defended well at times but I think there was more to come from that performance. Hopefully we can produce that against Newcastle."

Injured quartet David Brooks (ankle), Junior Stanislas, Charlie Daniels and Andrew Surman (all knee) remain unavailable for the trip to St James' Park.