EDDIE Howe admitted that avoiding injuries was his number one priority after Cherries returned to pre-season training on Saturday.

The Dean Court boss revealed a gentle introduction was his favoured approach as he was keen to circumvent any early setbacks.

Cherries will fly out to their training base in Austria a week today and the manager is promising his players will not be pushed too hard prior to that.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “Times have changed in pre-season. In days gone by the players got a tough baptism when they came back to training, but now guarding against injuries is our biggest priority. We want to make sure the players get through pre-season fit and healthy.

“We've never done anything like running through golf courses or forests with the players, every-thing we do will be on the pitch and with the ball, which I think the players enjoy and get the most out of.

"Very early on we'll be testing and seeing where the lads are fitness-wise and then we'll be slowly but surely building up their fitness levels.

“Pre-season will be a nice, slow introduction to fitness work and ball work and hopefully the players will enjoy the work that they do.”

Howe was keen to keep his training methods under wraps but revealed the challenge of returning to the training field was one he had been relishing.

“I think we approach training slightly differently and we have a few things up our sleeve in terms of what we will be doing but I will keep those to myself,” he said.

“We will try and test the players in different ways, mentally as well as physically.

“We're looking forward to getting back to work. This is one of my favourite times of the season as you get the chance to really work the players tactically and lay all the foundations you need to have a successful season.”

Cherries' first pre-season friendly is against FC Copenhagen on Friday, July 11.