MANAGER Eddie Howe said Steve Cook’s hamstring injury picked up against Liverpool was a “hammer blow” for Cherries and added: “It looks like he’ll be struggling for a number of weeks.”

The centre half was forced off after 19 minutes with his side a goal up at Anfield thanks to Callum Wilson's breakaway opener.

But after the commanding centre-half was replaced by academy graduate Jack Simpson, Cherries went on to lose 2-1 thanks to goals from Reds’ duo Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Defeat kept Cherries in the bottom three of the Premier League.

Howe said: “I think the big moment for us was Steve Cook’s injury.

"That was a hammer blow for us in the game when we had started so well.

“To lose our captain and the relationship he has with Nathan (Ake) at the heart of our defence. That was a tough one to take.

“It looks like it’s a hamstring pull. It’s very difficult to give a diagnosis too early.

"It looks like he’ll be struggling for a number of weeks.”

Cherries also lost Joshua King to a hamstring problem ahead of the trip to Merseyside, Simon Francis was also ruled out with a knee concern.

“We need to get Simon Francis fit first and foremost, hopefully we can do that," added Howe.

“Jack showed today after the initial phase of the game that he can play, he can play very well at this level.

“We need those players now more than ever to step up and give their all for a team.

“It’s sort of summed up our season to a degree that as soon as we feel like we have got some stability and some strength back in the group we get knocked again.

“We can’t look at it as ‘why us?’ and feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to get on with it and get the job done – that’s what I would encourage the players to do."