EDDIE Howe confirmed skipper Simon Francis had been nursing a knee problem but said: “We hope to have him back pretty soon.”

The Cherries defender was not included in the club’s enhanced 20-man squad for Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace.

And Howe admitted the 35-year-old was “not 100 per cent” ahead of tomorrow's important Premier League battle at Wolves (6pm).

The boss told the Daily Echo: “Simon’s been nursing a knee injury for a while.

“He missed a lot of training when it commenced just after lockdown – so he is not 100 per cent.

“But he is building up to that level. We hope to have him back pretty soon.”

Francis has played 136 times for Cherries at England’s elite level, only Adam Smith (138), Joshua King (155) and Steve Cook (162) have appeared on more occasions.

The former Charlton man was one of four players to agree short-term contracts with Cherries, to remain at the club until the end of the campaign.

Artur Boruc, Andrew Surman and Charlie Daniels have also agreed terms for the season-defining run-in.