THE final whistle was still echoing around South Korea’s Suwon World Cup Stadium when the plaudits began raining down on England’s victorious under-20 team.

Almost without exception, though, the congratulations arrived with a thudding caveat attached: the first players from this country to win a global tournament since 1966 must be cherished and nurtured, not swallowed up by the competition at almighty Premier League clubs.

Former England international Trevor Sinclair insisted those clubs had a “duty” to allow our world champion footballers the opportunity to play and sustain their development.

Lewis Cook has no worries on that front.

As captain of the Young Lions, Cook’s relative lack of action for Cherries last season was quickly hit upon by concerned pundits wanting to illustrate the meagre rations of top-level football these players are surviving on.

There has been scant mention of the fact Cook played 80 Championship matches for Leeds United before moving to Cherries last summer.

That experience alone puts him streets ahead of his England contemporaries. You don’t last five minutes in the hothouse environment of Elland Road without being a tough so-and-so.

Even less so if you play in Cook’s position. From Billy Bremner and Norman Hunter, through David Batty, to Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt, they like midfielders who can look after themselves at Leeds. They have to be able to play a bit, too.

Furthermore, Cook's 431 minutes of Premier League action last term outstripped the game time accumulated by any of his Young Lions colleagues in the same period.

That despite the Yorkshireman being forced to the sidelines for three months by an ankle injury sustained playing for England’s under-20 team against Germany last October.

Significantly, plenty of players older and wiser than Cook have required an extended period to bed into Eddie Howe’s way of doing things.

It is here we can get to the guts of why the 20-year-old is in precisely the right place to train on considerably in the coming years.

Ryan Giggs has spoken of a specific worry he harbours for young footballers elevated into first-team squads; essentially, reasons Giggs, these players lose individual coaching hours to time spent working on prosaic details: team shape, for example.

Howe, though, makes no secret of his desire to improve every one of his players. Nor of his belief in his ability to do just that.

Adam Smith, Junior Stanislas and Dan Gosling spent most of the 2014-15 season watching on as their team-mates won the Championship.

Logic suggested a leap to the Premier League wouldn’t bode well for the trio, then. As it happened, their combined 67 starts in the club’s first top-flight season was 54 more than the number they amassed between them in the previous campaign.

Last season’s figure of 66 would have been higher were it not for Gosling and Stanislas’s respective injury troubles.

That sort of transformation doesn’t happen by chance, it is the product of bucketloads of work away from the public eye.

As he was phased back into the Cherries side late last season Cook was adamant his reduced role had not been a problem.

‘Well, he would say that wouldn’t he,’ you might think.

When Cook got his chance, though, he was fantastic. He played like a man who had spent months fine-tuning every element of his game.

And what a game he has got. He’ll never lay an opposing midfield to waste through sheer power – although his tenacity and sharpness in the tackle mean he’s nobody’s mug in the physical stakes.

Rather, Cook possesses a lethal range of passing. He can thrust a dagger to the heart of a team with one piercing forward ball or, if the rhythm of a match demands, inflict death by a thousand cuts with his prompt, intelligent distribution.

It says an awful lot about Cook’s maturity that Howe has not sought to play down his potential. Asked about the player after his terrific performance against Burnley in May, Howe referenced Cook’s “burst of pace… creative eye… aggression... touch and special talent”.

So far as testimonials go, that one takes some beating. Certainly, those are not the words of a manager planning to shunt Cook to the margins.

Howe reserved further praise for his player’s exemplary attitude. Cook demonstrated that quality in spades when he returned from that ankle injury in the footballing boondocks of Gosport Borough for a Hampshire Senior Cup game in January.

He mucked in as if he were playing a South Yorkshire derby for Leeds at Sheffield Wednesday, which he had been 12 months earlier.

That type of mental resolve is priceless. Without it, the ability in a player’s feet is markedly devalued.

Lewis Cook has waited for his time. It is here. And don’t bet against him being in Russia next June, either.