MANAGER Eddie Howe says he hopes Mohamed Coulibaly could finally be close to a return to action following his painstaking recovery from injury.

Winger Coulibaly, a summer signing from Grasshoppers, has been sidelined for more than 14 weeks due to Achilles and calf problems.

The 25-year-old started Cherries’ Championship opener against Charlton but last featured when he came off the bench during the 3-1 defeat by Blackburn at the end of September.

Although Coulibaly appeared to be on the road to recovery at the start of December, he suffered a minor recurrence of his Achilles injury which set him back.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “He is making good progress. We have changed his preparation to training and tweaked a few little things with his rehab and he has improved as a result. We are hopeful we could have him back soon.

“He returned for a spell of training with us but then started to feel his Achilles again so he has been a bit on and off. We are hopeful we have got to the bottom of the cause of the problem and we can now see an improvement in him.”

Howe is hoping defender Steve Cook could be in contention for Cherries’ trip to Wigan after making good progress following his hamstring injury.

Cook was ruled out of Cherries’ festive campaign after sustaining a small tear during a training session in the lead up to the visit to Sheffield Wednesday.

Howe said: “He wouldn’t have been in contention to play in the FA Cup game on Saturday because we felt it would have been too early with no training sessions behind him. But, hopefully, he will train this week.”