FIT-AGAIN Steve Cook hopes to put a “summer of frustrations” behind him by making the starting line-up for Saturday’s Premier League opener against Sheffield United.

The centre-back made his first appearance of pre-season during the 3-0 win over Lyon at Vitality Stadium at the weekend.

Cook was a mainstay again in the Cherries side last season until he was forced to spend time in hospital after discovering an abscess in his groin having been struggling to walk.

The 28-year-old was ruled out for seven matches before returning to play through the pain barrier as captain in the final five games of the 2018-19 campaign to help his side secure a fifth straight season in the top-flight.

But speaking to the Daily Echo after making his return at the weekend, he admits those appearances in April and May came at a cost.

Cook said: “It’s been a while since I felt good really.

“The games I played towards the end of the season was more heart over head. I shouldn’t have probably played those games.

“It’s left me a little bit short for this season, but hopefully I’ve done enough maybe to put my name forward to play this week (against Sheffield United).

“I’ve had a persistent groin injury since Christmas time. I’ve had a lot of complications over that six or seven months. I had an operation in the summer which didn’t really go to plan.

“It was a summer of frustrations really because it’s been a lot of catching up to do.

“When I spent that time in hospital, I think it took a lot from my body and health. On Saturday I was really pleased because it was the first time I’ve felt myself in a long time. So even though I only played 60 minutes, it was really enjoyable.”

He added: “I was planning on being back training on the first day. I came in a couple of weeks before the start and did one lap of the pitch and that was kind of my pre-season over because I couldn’t really run too well. I’ve done a lot of hard work with Dave the physio and I feel really strong now and ready to kick on.”

With Cook missing the first five pre-season matches, Cherries switched between a back three and back four with first-team stars Nathan Ake, Jack Simpson and Chris Mepham featuring regularly. Academy trio Corey Jordan, Tyler Cordner and Matt Butcher were among those to help plug the gaps.

And despite making over 300 appearances for Cherries since joining from Brighton, initially on loan, in 2011, Cook still feels he has to earn his spot in the side.

The Hastings-born ace said: “Of course, it’s a clean slate for everyone. There’s a lot of competition for places. I feel good. I’ve worked really hard aside from the team. I was reintroduced (to training) last week. I feel good, probably the strongest I’ve felt in a long time so I’m hoping I’m in contention (for Sheffield United).”