CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe revealed Chris Mepham had been forced to go under the knife for the second time in 2020 and was expected to be out for around six weeks with a knee problem.

The defender is now ruled out of the Dorset club’s crucial remaining Premier League fixtures against Southampton on Sunday (2pm) and Everton a week later – as Howe looks to plot their Premier League survival.

Mepham last week had an injection in his knee to try to aid the problem – but with that not helping, the boss said he had already undergone an operation.

Asked for an update on the Wales international, the Cherries manager told the Daily Echo: “He had the injection, the injection didn’t help the problem, so he’s gone under the knife.

“We anticipate he will be out for around six weeks. We don’t think it’s too serious – hopefully that’s the problem fixed.”

Former Brentford man Mepham had been ruled out since January with a knee problem, before making a return to action for the final 10 minutes against Newcastle earlier this month.

But the 22-year-old will end the season with just 12 top-flight appearances to his name.

Asked how tough the past few months had been for Mepham mentally, Howe replied: “It’s very difficult for him because before he picked up the (first) injury against Luton in the FA Cup he was in a really good run of form.

“He was growing in confidence every week and showing everybody how good he could be.

“Then he had that operation which was quite serious. This one I don’t think is as bad but it’s a blow to him.

“But he’s a really positive lad. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him, a long career, so it’s important we try to get this one right for him.”