EDDIE Howe is hopeful Steve Cook will be available for selection again soon as he continues to battle back from a groin injury.

The Cherries defender has played no part in the four pre-season fixtures so far and missed the club’s training trip to Spain earlier this month.

Cook first developed a minor groin problem last December, but continued to play until being forced to miss seven games between February and April after discovering an abscess in the area, with the 28-year-old admitting the infection left him “genuinely crying in pain”.

And Howe confirmed that Cook is again nursing an injury.

The Cherries boss told the Daily Echo: “It’s the same one (injury) that he had at the back end of last season.

“He played with a groin problem for a long period of time.

“We always knew come the end of the season that he was going to have a period where he needed to get treatment and to rest.

“He’s gradually making his way back.

“We hope that he will train this week.”

Despite being told his season was over, Cook returned to play through the pain barrier in the final five matches of 2018-19 to help Cherries seal their Premier League survival.

Speaking at the end of the campaign, the defender said: “I need to regroup, strengthen, stay fit, enjoy some time off and be ready for next season.

“I don’t really want to be sat on the sidelines whether I’m injured or not.”

Asked if he was confident that the defender’s injury would not keep him out of the team long-term, Howe added: “Well until the player is back fit and firing, it’s difficult to know.

“But he’s certainly a massive player for us and we’re desperate for him to be fit and available.”