SCOTT Parker described as “brilliant” Steve Cook’s return to Championship action and added: “He’s every bit what you want on the pitch at that moment.”

The club captain made his return to Cherries’ starting XI for the first time this season, playing 90 minutes in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Coventry.

Cook has been made to wait for his opportunity under Parker, due to the form of regular centre-back pairing Lloyd Kelly and Gary Cahill.

But with those two players both injured, Parker turned to the Hastings-born star against the Sky Blues.

Assessing Cook’s performance in his first Championship game for almost 200 days, Parker said: “He did brilliant.

“At the end of the game, if there was ever a man that represented or showed what you need when you come right under the pump, it was Steve Cook.

“He’s every bit what you want on the pitch at that moment. He was fantastic.

“I’ve said it all along, it’s been difficult for Steve this year. I’ve found it difficult at times for him, because I’ve had to make difficult decisions.

“He’s not found himself involved or around it and that’s down to the personnel in front of him doing very, very well.

“But I’ve always been in communication saying look, you’ll get your chance here. I know if you keep yourself right, you’ll take it. I thought he was brilliant.”

Cook, whose current contract at Vitality Stadium expires at the end of the season, has spent over a decade with the Dorset outfit having first joined them in October 2011.

Speaking to afcbTV about his return to league action, the defender said: “I’ve trained extremely hard over the past four months. I’ve kept myself going.

“I’ve always been ready to play. That’s where I have been at mentally, so on Saturday stepping in the team was never a problem for me. I was really looking forward to it.

“I’m gutted about the result but the (other) results again have been kind to us.

“We are going through a little bit of a blip right now. Their second goal kind of sums up where we are at at the moment but the gap we’ve got is still healthy and we will look to push on now.”

Cook will hope to be involved for Cherries in Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash at Fulham.