BOSS Scott Parker described as the “ultimate professional” Steve Cook and that he had shown his commitment to Cherries in training sessions.

The club captain’s only senior appearance for the Dorset outfit this season came in a 6-0 Carabao Cup second-round thumping at Norwich back in August.

Cook has not featured in the Championship for Parker’s men but was named on the bench for the first time during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Derby, following an injury to Lloyd Kelly.

The 30-year-old stressed in an interview during the international break he was “still desperate to contribute” but could not say about his future.

Asked about Cook ahead of the clash against the Rams, Parker told the Daily Echo: “I only spoke to Steve a few weeks ago to say what an ultimate professional he has been at this present moment in time.

“I understand his predicament. I know it’s not easy, I know it’s very challenging – not ideal for him, I get that – difficult for me at times because I have to make decisions, tough decisions at times.

“I only have 11 men I can pick and then six outfield subs, so obviously those challenges are what a manager is faced with.

“At this present moment in time, there has been limited opportunity for Steve really.

“I think it’s fair to say what he has shown me every day in training, the commitment he has shown, the work, everything he has done – he has put himself where I know when he is going to be called upon, I have no doubt he can do that.”

Hastings-born Cook, 30, is under contract at Cherries until the end of the season.

Kelly and Gary Cahill have been Parker’s preferred centre-back pairing this campaign, with Chris Mepham, Zeno Ibsen Rossi and Cook providing backup.

Put to him that it was testament to the club captain’s character to remain the ultimate professional despite not playing, Parker replied: “It’s a big testament to his character.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less to be honest with you. That’s how I expect every player to react.

“I understand that, of course, everyone is different, every personality is different and - while I would expect everyone to react in a very professional way and understand when you get your chance you can take it - I do realise at the same time that can be very different.

“I understand the frustrations. I was a player once and, ultimately, all you want to do is play football. I get that.

“He’s an experienced guy who has played a lot of football and done incredible for this football club.

“At this moment he is on the wrong side of not being involved but he is putting himself in a position that, if needed to be, I am sure he will be fine.

“Lloydy and Gaz have done extremely well in those positions. Meps and Steve, along with Zeno when he is fit, are pushing hard to try to get in the team, or certainly if something happens they are ready to take their opportunity.

“I see that in his commitment in terms of training.”

Cook could once again be involved when Cherries make the trip to Millwall in the Championship tomorrow.