BOSS Eddie Howe revealed Lloyd Kelly is "getting closer" to a first-team return after the defender made his comeback on Friday.

Kelly, who has not featured for Cherries' senior side since the Carabao Cup loss at Burton in September, played 60 minutes of the under-21s' 3-0 win against Nottingham Forest on Friday.

Asked if the 21-year-old could return for the Premier League clash with Brighton tomorrow (7.30pm), Howe said: "Lloyd Kelly is getting closer. He played in a reserve game last week, played 60 minutes. "Whether we consider him fit enough for the Premier League is a decision we’ll have to make."

Discussing the need to shuffle the defence with Steve Cook suspended, Howe added: "With Steve missing yes. We’ll wait and see on Lloyd.

"He had a muscle injury, so we have to be a little bit careful with him. The Premier League is very different in terms of intensity.

"We need to make sure he’s fit enough to be able to perform. But the good news is he’s getting closer and if it’s not this game then it will be the next one."

Howe also confirmed both Joshua King and Jack Stacey are still absent due to their respective hamstring injuries.