NATHAN Ake says a strong pre-season will be key as Cherries aim to replicate the impressive start they made 12 months ago.

Eddie Howe’s men flew out of the traps in 2018-19, registering 20 points from their opening 10 Premier League matches, as well as booking their spot in the EFL Cup quarter-finals by the end of October.

That saw Cherries sitting pretty in sixth place in the top flight, just six points behind leading duo Liverpool and Manchester City.

Form dipped in the second half of the campaign with Cherries ending up in 14th as injuries took their toll on the team.

But with pre-season training set to begin today for Howe’s squad, Ake has his eyes on another fast start.

He told the Daily Echo: “It was important to have a good break, relax and get our minds back at it and make sure we start well.

“I think last season pre-season went really well and we carried that on into the season and we want to do the same for sure.

“Pre-season is hard work, but it’s also fun. It brings the team together.

“I’m looking forward to it. It will be good.”

Ake started all 38 Premier League matches for Cherries last season and was utilised in a number of positions during the closing weeks of the campaign.

The Dutchman filled in at full-back and central midfield, as well as his natural spot at centre-back, and he says the disruption caused by missing players had an impact as Cherries slipped down the table and ended with a goals against tally of 70.

Ake said: “Of course finishing 14th was disappointing.

“I think with our team we should finish in the top 10 at least, but obviously last season didn’t work out as well.

“Obviously because of injuries as well. I don’t want to give excuses but there have been a lot of injuries to starters.

“That didn’t help but it’s too inconsistent. After such a great start you need to carry that on and we couldn't do that.”

He added: “I played in different positions, a lot of players were playing in different positions with young players coming in.

“Obviously it’s not ideal there were so many injuries, but we still shouldn’t concede so many goals.”

This summer has again seen speculation linking key Cherries players with moves away from the club including Callum Wilson, David Brooks and Ryan Fraser.

And Ake insists keeping hold of the squad’s stars is vital.

He said: “I think it’s always important to keep the team.

“I think we have very good players, so it’ll be interesting to see what is going to happen this season.”