SIMON Francis admitted his frustration over not being able to help Cherries’ during the business end of the campaign – having undergone an operation on a knee injury.

The 35-year-old was unable to feature in the club’s season-defining top-flight run in, with Eddie Howe’s side eventually relegated from the division on the final day.

Howe has since parted company with the club by mutual consent, with Cherries actively seeking a new manager to prepare for life back in the Championship.

Francis has opted not to take a holiday this summer, as he looks to work on at Cherries his fitness in a bid to earn a new contract with the Dorset club.

Shedding further light on his knee problem, the defender said: “I had some cartilage that was loose behind my kneecap.

“Every time I trained it basically just reacted and swelled up pretty bad. I had the cartilage trimmed away.

“It wasn’t actually related to my previous ACL injury, which was the most frustrating thing, but it meant it was a really small operation and hopefully not too long out.”

The biggest frustration for the Cherries club captain however was not being able to lead the Dorset club in the dressing room on matchdays for the final nine games - due to the regulations surrounding COVID-19.

“He (Howe) said he’d need me more than ever when I was injured as a captain, just to be in and around the lads,” added the stalwart defender.

“Unfortunately, recently, it’s been a nightmare really.

“Because of the pandemic, I haven’t even been allowed in the changing rooms – injured players have not been allowed anywhere near the squad on matchdays. It’s bizarre really.

“We are all getting tested twice a week and yet the squad isn’t allowed together on matchday.

“That was frustrating for me and the manager, because I wanted to be in and around the lads wishing them luck, getting them going and motivating them and we weren’t allowed to do that.

“That’s certainly played a big part and has been frustrating over the past couple of months.”