CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe promised he would not make excuses – even in the midst of an injury crisis.

The Dorset side have been hit hard by a string of injuries with Jermain Defoe's fractured ankle being the toughest body blow to take over the festive period.

England star Defoe could be out for up to 10 weeks and the likes of Andrew Surman, Harry Arter and Charlie Daniels had been nursing differing issues in the build up to tomorrow's Premier League clash with Everton (3pm).

Junior Stanislas is out of the Vitality Stadium fixture with a hamstring problem, the additional absences of Brad Smith and Tyrone Mings leaving Cherries light at the back.

However, Howe admitted his demands remained high and said his team should still "function in the way I expect".

Asked if an injury crisis would make him more understanding of below-par displays, Howe said: "I don't think I've ever worked that way. That's almost a recipe for preparing yourself for excuses.

"The way we train the squad, I would expect any member of my squad to come in and play in the way we want them to, to know their role and job within the team.

"Of course you are going to miss certain players when they are out because of the characteristics they bring and maybe their experience and certain other things.

"I've always been a firm believer that that's why you have a squad of players who are ready to play and take their opportunity when it comes.

"You are going to miss certain players and that's the same for any team in the Premier League. But certainly, I don't expect any different from the team. I still expect the team to function in the way I expect."

Stanislas suffered a hamstring strain in the defeat at Manchester City before Christmas, with Howe predicting the winger would be available early next month.

The manager revealed the injuries suffered by Surman (shoulder), Arter (calf) and Daniels (tendon) were not serious, adding: "Whether it's this game, the next game or the one after, I don't think they will be too long."

There have been positive developments on Brad Smith, who sustained a hip injury on international duty with Australia in October.

Howe added: "Brad is improving. Technically, I'd say he's nearly there with his injury. The difficulty for him is that we're not having training sessions of the type which would be conducive to getting him back in the rhythm of playing.

"With the games we've had, we've had small numbers training so it will probably be early January before we consider him available to play."

Smith, 23, has made two appearances for Cherries this season, both of which were in the Carabao Cup.

The utility man made five Premier League outings for the south coast club in 2016-17 having joined permanently from Liverpool.