IT IS approaching one year since Steve Cook first felt the effects of an injury which threatened his career.

But the centre-back played through the pair barrier before suddenly being forced out of action for two months after the discovery of an abscess on his groin in February.

The infection left Cook struggling to walk, but after treatment he returned to complete the final five games of the 2018-19 campaign, something the centre-back has since admitted was a “heart over head” decision.

And that led to more complications for the Cherries stand-in skipper over the summer, including an operation which did not go to plan, as he missed the entirety of pre-season, until the final friendly against Lyon where he completed 67 minutes.

A week later, Cook lined up in the heart of the defence for the opening Premier League game of the season and has not missed any top-flight action since.

Not only has Cook been featuring, but he has been one of Cherries’ standout performers, particularly in the past three weeks which have seen Eddie Howe’s men record a hat-trick of clean sheets.

That culminated in an outstanding display during Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Vitality Stadium, where the former Brighton talent notched up his 150th Premier League appearance in the process.

“It was the perfect weekend,” Cook told the Daily Echo.

“Obviously on a personal note, delighted to make 150 appearances in the Premier League and hopefully there’s more to come.

“Right now it’s pleasing to make that (milestone), but I don’t really think too much of it. I’m still at a good age. I’m at a good club and hopefully we can continue to be a Premier League team and I can contribute more and I’m still only 28, so hopefully I’ve got a lot more to give.”

Discussing his own form this season, Cook added: “I struggled from last Christmas with a groin injury. It’s now coming up to 12 months and I’m starting to get on top of it and starting to feel good.

“Physically I’ve had to work hard with the people behind the scenes in the gym, so I’m feeling the benefits of that now.

“I didn’t have a pre-season so right now I probably feel the best I have in a long, long time and hopefully I’m showing it.

“It’s been a strange one. Over the years I haven’t had too many injuries and this one has been one that’s stuck with me.

“One day I’d feel really good and then the next day I’d feel terrible.”

He continued: “I think I was the oldest out there for the Bournemouth team on Saturday.

“To be honest, my time at Bournemouth has gone really quick. I signed here as a 20-year-old and now I’m 28, with a lot less hair, so it’s nice at the moment I feel good physically. I didn’t feel too old on Saturday.”

Having kept no clean sheets in the first eight games, Cherries have now not conceded in 351 minutes of action.

The past three shutouts have included the same starting back five of Aaron Ramsdale, Adam Smith, Cook, Nathan Ake and Diego Rico.

And Cook admits the defence feel nothing will get past them when they step out onto the field.

“I think when you’re in this run of form, you don’t see yourself conceding,” he said.

“You have bodies where you need them. I felt against Arsenal (1-0 loss) we should’ve had a clean sheet, we conceded from a set play.

“I think from that game onwards we’ve looked really strong and I think we’re getting the rewards from that now.

“When you do keep those clean sheets, you feel on top of the world. You don’t feel that you’re going to concede.

“When you do concede goals, sometimes it feels like it’s only a matter of time, so football is a funny game.

“Obviously it’s a game of confidence. We’re confident right now, we’re unbeaten in three, we’ve just beaten Man United and now we look to push on.”