CHERRIES boss Andoni Iraola has a potential headache for this weekend’s trip to Burnley – and not the good kind.

Top goalscorer Dominic Solanke is a doubt after undergoing an MRI scan on a knee issue, whilst his most obvious replacement, Enes Unal, visited hospital on Tuesday night after hurting his collarbone against Leicester City.

With Cherries’ heavy reliance on Solanke – his 14 goals this term representing just over 42 per cent of Cherries’ total tally in the Premier League – there will naturally be concern over who will lead the line in his absence.

Unal would have been the proverbial heir to the throne, if he was not also a doubt for Cherries’ next games.

The Turkish international has already replaced one striker this term, his arrival from Getafe enabling Kieffer Moore to join Ipswich on loan until the end of the season.

Young talent Daniel Adu-Adjei, who was handed a senior Cherries debut in the FA Cup in January, is also away on loan from the club.

Aside from turning to the youth academy, who can Iraola task with leading the line for Cherries if Solanke is absent?

The natural option

Bournemouth Echo: Although Cherries would not have wanted to think about it, there would have already been a contingency plan in place even before Solanke, and Unal, picked up issues that could leave them sidelined.

Premier League registration rules, as well as financial considerations, mean that most clubs in the top-flight cannot have an endless supply of elite strikers in their squads – especially if they only play with one up top.

Of course, Solanke’s immediate replacement would be Unal, but a stroke of bad luck and awful timing may lead Iraola and co. to look at the third name on the list.

That likely would be Antoine Semenyo, on the basis that the attacker came on a half time to replace Unal against Leicester.

Iraola has also often spoken in press conferences about Justin Kluivert as an option up top if required, and that theory may soon be tested.

Kluivert, and fellow winger Luis Sinisterra, found themselves leading the line for stints in the FA Cup against Leicester.

It is not as if the options themselves do not believe they can lead the line in Solanke’s absence.

Semenyo is Cherries’ third highest goalscorer this term, with four goals in 24 appearances, and the Ghanaian international more than backs himself to start up top.

He led the line for his country at the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of this year, and the 24-year-old in fact describes himself as an out-and-out striker, rather than the winger he has been deployed as since joining Cherries in January 2023.

Speaking back in August, Semenyo told the Daily Echo: “I see myself as a nine, but I can play in the right (wing) position as well.

“So I consider myself versatile in that sense, but I'm happy wherever I'm put to play.”

Fans have voiced their enjoyment of Semenyo’s playstyle, his willingness to fire off a shot sooner rather than later from either foot a real crowd pleaser.

He has a knack for taking up goalscoring positions – and his physicality lends itself well to holding the ball up and fashioning in his teammates.

After Tuesday’s disappointment, Iraola remarked how both Kluivert and Semenyo dropped deep to get on the ball in attempt to drive Cherries up the pitch.

The Basque boss implied that the substitutes’ tendency to drop back was borne out of their desire to impact the game, rather than being ill-suited to playing as a standalone number nine, but there is precedent.

It was a facet of Solanke’s game that Iraola has tried to eradicate, or at least refocus, tasking the one-time England international in remaining in a more advanced position to take up goalscoring opportunities.

Solanke’s high work rate remains, but has been reengineered to pressing and harassing backlines, rather than dropping deep into his own half to get his side up the pitch.

However, asking players who are used to receiving the ball low and driving forward whilst in their wide positions to adapt their games could be a tall ask for a temporary fix.

The versatile option

Bournemouth Echo: Kluivert has already shown his adaptability, both in his versatility on the pitch and his well-travelled path off of it.

Across spells in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, Kluivert as played in a whole host of positions and roles.

On top of his versatile nature, the 24-year-old is also capable of putting the ball in the back of the net, proven by his position as Cherries’ second highest goalscorer.

Pre-season plans of deploying the Dutchman more centrally as a number 10 came to fruition in December, sparking Cherries’ best run of the season with Kluivert in the hole.

Although he prefers to play as a winger, the Ajax youth product relished the change in scenery – and has played up top before.

Could another change in duty for Kluivert spark a second turn of fortunes for Cherries’ form this term?

Of goalscoring stock, the 24-year-old is able to score with his left and right foot, as well as capable of steering a header on target.

He is also clinical inside the area – all but one of his 17 league goals over the past four seasons have come within the confines of the 18-yard-box.

These are all tools required to be a successful Premier League number nine.

The wildcard option

Bournemouth Echo: Luis Sinisterra is set to complete a permanent move to Cherries

Semenyo and Kluivert seem more straight-forward options, but there is perhaps a third choice.

Luis Sinisterra briefly moonlighted as a quasi-striker against Leicester, with Cherries trying to find any semblance of a focal point up top.

Iraola has often referred to Sinisterra’s aerial ability, which is a key component to a modern striker in terms of holding-up play.

Unlike Kluivert and Semenyo, however, the Colombian has little previous experience leading the line.

As evidenced by his curler against Fulham on Boxing Day, he has the ability to be a goal threat from range – and as such, it might be best to leave him on the wings.

There is also the added conundrum that Semenyo, Kluivert, and Sinisterra have all been three of Cherries’ best performers through a tough patch.

Having to play them out of position would require calling upon arguably out of form options in their usual roles.

Marcus Tavernier will not need reminding that his goal output is down from last term, and whilst there can be no doubt over his ability, it cannot be ignored that he has not been performing at his best level.

Dango Ouattara is also getting back up to speed following a combination of injury and time away with his country at AFCON.

It should also be said that the Burkinabe’s best performances this season have come at left back. However, he has operated as a striker for his country – and maybe his raw pace could be devastating on the counter.

Philip Billing has endured time out of the team this term, the Dane admitting that after two productive seasons in front of goal he needs to step up and deliver this year.

After impressing on his return from a first injury this season, Alex Scott is not quite hitting the same heights since his comeback from a second issue.

Whilst relying on a 20-year-old in his first top-flight season is unfair, all of the players used to operating in the attacking line behind Solanke will need to contribute if their talisman is out injured.