Howe admits Chelsea's likely to cut Ake's Bournemouth loan short

Chelsea is poised to recall defender Nathan Ake from his Bournemouth loan spell, exercising a clause that was written into the deal when he left for the south coast in the summer.

The 21-year-old Dutchman had to wait until November to make his first start for the Cherries, but has since appeared 12 times, producing strong outings at the back and has even weighed in with three goals.

It’s these performances that have encouraged Antonio Conte, the Blues’ Italian handler, to consider engineering a quick return for Ake to his back three which, beyond Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill, is short on options.

“It looks like that will be the case that they will call him back, it’s not 100 percent finalised yet,” Cherries boss Eddie Howe told the Guardian’s Ben Fisher. “That would be a huge blow for us and with Nathan going back our defensive resources would be stretched, it would be a huge blow to us as he’s done so well.”

While Steve Cook is still available for selection, Howe’s other centre-half regular Simon Francis is suspended for the upcoming Premier League matches against Hull City and Watford. Should Ake leave, that could open up a spot for ex-Stoke City man Marc Wilson, who’s yet to appear for his new club, or, instead, a player from the Under-21 squad.

That predicament has encouraged Howe to send the scouts out.

“It’s easier said than done to say we are going to recruit a player in similar stature to Nathan and I’m not sure there’s too many out there,” Howe said. “So that’s going to be a difficult one for us but we will assess our options and try and make the right decisions.”

Not only could Ake turn out for Chelsea again, but Kurt Zouma is set to return to first-team duty in Sunday’s FA Cup hosting of Peterborough United as he works back from a ruptured ACL suffered in February 2016.

EPL | theScore

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