EDDIE Howe admits he would have preferred the winter break to have come earlier in the season but added: “I think it’s a really good thing.”

Cherries are currently in the middle of a 12-day period without a fixture following Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Sheffield United, the first break of its kind to be introduced in the Premier League.

Howe’s charges return to action on February 22 with a trip to Burnley.

The Daily Echo understands first-team players have been given five days off before returning for a week of training ahead of the clash at Turf Moor.

Many of the squad have taken to social media to publish pictures from their travels with the likes of Joshua King, Philip Billing, Junior Stanislas, Aaron Ramsdale and Steve Cook among a cohort who have visited Dubai this week, while Harry Wilson used the break to head to New York.

A study by researchers from the College of Podiatry released this week claims Premier League players last season were at more risk of injury than other leagues who took time off over the winter.

Consultant podiatric surgeon and college spokesman Trevor Prior said: “This research shows that Premier League players are at more risk of injury than some of the competitor leagues across Europe.

“It is well-known that stress to bone, tendon and muscle requires sufficient time for recovery to avoid overload and injury over time.

“A mid-season player break – something we are pleased to see being trialled for the first time this month – could be an important factor in reducing injury over the season and we look forward to the results.

Comparing the Premier League with Bundesliga, La Liga and Ligue 1, the study showed that England’s top flight contributed 40 per cent of the total injuries recorded in December 2018 and January 2019 at an average of 2.4 per game, contrasting the 1.9 figure across the board.

Premier League players hurt during that period, when 109 games were played in England, 80 in Spain, 76 in France and just 62 in Germany, were out of action for an average of 25.9 days.

Cherries’ busiest period of the campaign came with a spell of five games in 15 days across December and January.

That coincided with a crippling injury list at the club in recent months and Cherries notably lost both King and Jack Stacey to six-week hamstring lay-offs after they were struck down at Brighton on December 28 – their second fixture in 48 hours.

Asked for his thoughts on the timing of the winter break, before the figures from the above study were released, Howe told the Daily Echo: “Probably in an ideal world if you were to ask me the question I’d probably say January would be better.

“But I’m not in charge of the scheduling. I’m sure there’s reasons why it’s now, which I’m not party to. But I think the Christmas period is so demanding, as we found to our cost.

“The game against Brighton, second game in 48 hours we lost two players to hamstring injuries. That was a hammer blow for us at that moment.

“We would’ve loved a break pretty soon after that congested period.

“This seems like you’re through that and you’ve recovered from that and then you have the break. I’m not knocking it, because I think it’s a really good thing for the international players, but is it the right time? I’m not so sure.”

He added: “I’m not knocking the break at all. I think it’s a great thing for the players to be given that chance to just have a moment where they have a breather. I think it’s a really good thing.”