EDDIE Howe confirmed he was “very stretched” on central defensive options with as many as four possible centre-backs missing through injury for today’s 5-2 defeat to Manchester United.

The Cherries boss was without Steve Cook after the centre-half underwent a scan on a hamstring problem, picked up during the 4-1 defeat to Newcastle on Wednesday.

Simon Francis and Chris Mepham were out with knee injuries – although the latter did travel to Old Trafford with Howe’s squad.

And with Jack Simpson sustaining a calf problem, Howe started Lloyd Kelly at centre-half alongside Nathan Ake.

Giving an update on the injuries to his side after the loss to the Red Devils, Howe said: “Steve felt his hamstring after the game against Newcastle.

“He had a scan and it showed minor damage. We hope that it won’t be too serious.

“Meps travelled. We felt he could be fit with his knee. It wasn’t feeling quite right, so he had to miss out.

“With Simon Francis not fit, Jack Simpson not fit, we were very stretched in that area.”

Defeat left Cherries inside the bottom three of the top-flight with just five games remaining to save their Premier League status.

Howe’s men host Tottenham in the top flight on Thursday.