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Howe upbeat over Wilson, Gradel recoveries

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is hopeful forwards Callum Wilson and Max Gradel can recover from long-term injuries to play a part before the end of the season.

Signed from Saint-Etienne ahead of Bournemouth's Premier League debut, Ivory Coast international Gradel made four appearances but ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the last of those - a 1-1 draw against Leicester City in August.

Wilson made a fantastic start to life in the top flight, netting five goals in six appearances before suffering the same injury during a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City.

"Callum Wilson and Max Gradel are pretty much in line with their scheduled returns," Howe told a pre-match news conference ahead of Sunday's Premier League match versus title-chasing Arsenal.

"I wouldn't expect Max back any time soon, not within the next couple of weeks anyway, maybe in March.

"I think both will be back before the end of the season. From our perspective, they are like new signings if we can get them back to fitness and good form.

"I'm excited by the possibilities should they return this season."

Howe has since enhanced his attacking options with the January acquisitions of Benik Afobe, Lewis Grabban and Juan Manuel Iturbe from Wolves, Norwich City and Roma respectively.

For the weekend trip to Emirates Stadium, he is also confident that fellow forward Joshua King is returning to peak condition having returned to action over recent weeks.

"Joshua King did well against Palace and he looks to be getting back to his former fitness," said Howe of the player who netted a December winner to sink former club Manchester United before being struck by a hamstring problem later in the month.

Bournemouth lie 15th in the Premier League on 28 points, seven clear of the relegation zone.