SCOTT Parker insists Lewis Cook will not be rushed back from his second serious knee injury, but admitted: "I'm itching to see him with the team."

Cook has not featured since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a Championship contest against Preston North End at Deepdale in March.

It was the second time the 24-year-old had suffered a problem in that knee, also spending a lengthy spell out of the game due to ligament damage suffered in a match against Huddersfield in December 2018.

But Cook, a one-time England international, is now firmly back on the comeback trail, stepping up his training sessions with the team after recovering from surgery.

Asked for an update on Cook's progress, boss Parker told the Daily Echo: "To be honest, Lewis is one we’re probably having to put the reins on a little bit because he’s looking in an incredible place, to be quite honest with you.

"He’s looking very good, very, very well, but we’ve got to respect that injury. You have to respect that injury in terms of an ACL. So we will do that while also pushing as much as we can, but in a safe way really.

"That injury, there is a certain timeframe that you need to respect really. No matter how well you’re doing, anything earlier than probably six months is early really.

"So although like I said he’s in a fantastic place and I’m itching to see him with the team, because of the bits I am seeing of him, he’s impressing me massively.

"But I think we need to respect that injury really and respect his current situation over the last couple of years with injuries and make sure we’re not leaving him in a vulnerable position. We won’t do that."

When Cook returns, he is set to face stiff competition in the heart of Cherries' midfield.

Gavin Kilkenny has impressed in that deeper-lying position this season, while Philip Billing, Emiliano Marcondes, Jefferson Lerma, Junior Stanislas and Ben Pearson have also been battling for starting spots in central areas this season. Cherries also added Scotland international midfielder Ryan Christie to their ranks on deadline day.

But Parker feels Cook will be perfectly suited to his side, when he is fit and firing again.

Asked how excited he is to welcome Cook into the team in the coming months, Parker said: "He’ll fit right into exactly how we want to play.

"His character, his whole demeanour, the way he holds himself, he just seems like a proper fella to be fair.

"So I can’t wait. I played against Lewis when he was at Leeds and I remember him giving me a tough time to be fair.

"Albeit I do say to him I was getting a bit older then and he was still a young pup, so he had his legs on me back then!

"But he’s an exciting player and a lovely football player and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing him back with us."