COMEBACK king Junior Stanislas said boss Eddie Howe had made him feel “needed” throughout his injury heartbreak.

The 28-year-old winger on Tuesday made his long-awaited return from a serious knee problem, scoring in Cherries’ 8-1 Hampshire Senior Cup second-round victory over Eastleigh.

Stanislas suffered the setback during a 2-2 Premier League draw at Watford at the end of March and went under the knife days later.

Howe, who was in attendance to see Stanislas’s return at Vitality Stadium, said the playmaker was “more mature than he has ever been” in dealing with injury agony this time round.

The former West Ham youngster admitted his manager had played a huge role in helping him stay mentally strong.

He told the Daily Echo: “The gaffer has been fantastic. When the initial injury came I was upset about it but he focuses your mind on getting back and makes you feel they need you back and part of it.

“He has been great with me. We have been in conversation with each other with phone calls and text messages on a daily basis.

“Pre-season was very difficult. When you have the squad around you and you are doing it with the team you can bounce off each other. When you are on your own it’s a bit tougher.

“When you get that done, then you can move on to games and training.

“Contribution towards the team and success is what drives me – the feeling of being on the pitch and the reaction of the crowd when you either score, make an assist or win a game and get back into the changing room with your team-mates.”

The Londoner admitted those closest to him had also played a huge part in his recovery away from football.

“My family is very important to me. I have two young boys and a fiancé,” he added.

“In the initial period when you get injured and go under the knife, my missus looked after me a lot.

“My kids kept me upbeat. Regardless of knee injuries or anything like that I still had to be active for them but the main thing was getting back on the pitch.”

Stanislas was in red-hot form with four goals in eight top-flight games last season, before seeing his campaign ended abruptly.

The Cherries ace said he was unlikely to face former club Burnley when Howe’s men head to Turf Moor on Saturday (3pm).

But he insisted he was looking to play an integral role in the Dorset club’s season and was eager to earn back his starting spot.

He said: “I want to play every single minute of every game – whether it is likely to happen is another story but I want to play.

“Regardless of the opposition or the level I played at, it was just good to be on the pitch.

“I’m sure the club will probably be looking more to the cup game against Blackburn.”