THERE is just a week to go until Cherries' squad return to the training ground at Vitality Stadium for pre-season testing.

It may feel like football has never stopped, given international matches were still going on earlier this week.

But next Saturday (June 25) will mark seven weeks since Cherries rounded off their Championship campaign with a 1-0 win over Millwall.

Players immediately headed off on their holidays, gearing up for a return to the Premier League.

The reality has now struck, with top-flight fixtures announced this week. Cherries will begin the season at home against Aston Villa on Saturday, August 6, giving Scott Parker six weeks to get his players ready.

Tough challenges against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool instantly follow the clash with Villa.

After the day of testing next weekend, pre-season will then begin in earnest the following week.

There is an expectation some members of the squad will be granted extra time off, following their recent international exploits. The likes of Chris Mepham, Philip Billing, Mark Travers and Ryan Christie were as of this week still with their respective countries in UEFA Nations League action.

Bournemouth Echo:

Trip to Portugal

All of the first-team squad are expected to be back and ready to head away to Portugal in the middle of July, a key part of the pre-season preparations.

Parker will travel away with his side for a 10-day training camp, flying off on July 11, before returning on July 20.

The bulk of the work during the pitch will take place at the training complex, but the club are also looking to arrange some friendly matches whilst they are away.

Bournemouth Echo:

Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson.

Friendlies to be announced

Cherries' current pre-season fixture schedule to be announced consists of two matches at Vitality Stadium.

Championship outfit Bristol City will head to the south coast on Saturday, July 23 (3pm), before Spanish side Real Sociedad then visit the following weekend on Saturday, July 30 (3pm), one week before the start of the Premier League campaign.

The Daily Echo understands Cherries are hopeful of announcing up to three more friendlies, but opponents and details are yet to be fully rubber-stamped.

It is understood some of those fixtures could be played behind-closed-doors.

Steve Cook testimonial

Following his emotional departure from Cherries in January, after more than 10 years at the club, it was announced that Steve Cook would be granted a testimonial.

The expectation was that would form part of this year's pre-season preparations for the centre-back, as he geared up for the campaign with his new club Nottingham Forest.

Cook made 388 appearances for Cherries, following his arrival from Brighton & Hove Albion, initially on loan, in October 2011.

Speaking in January, Cherries chief executive Neill Blake said: “Steve is an AFC Bournemouth legend. He has been a key part of this club’s success over the last 10 years and has played a pivotal role in some of the most memorable moments in our history.

“He leaves with our thanks for everything he has done for the club, and our very best wishes for the future.

“We look forward to welcoming him back to host his testimonial later this year.”


AFC Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest in Championship game at Vitality Stadium. AFC Bournemouth gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League. steve cook and Sam Surridge.

Steve Cook joined Nottingham Forest in January


Discussing the prospect of the showcase fixture, Cook said: “I am really excited about it.

“Really looking forward to bringing back some of the players that had so much success here and didn’t get to give the club and fans a farewell as well.

“Those talks will take place and I am going to have to persuade people to get their boots back on and put on a bit of an exhibition for the fans.

“I am so proud that I have been able to achieve that. A great opportunity to say goodbye to the fans properly.

“And (it is a) really nice opportunity again to bring some of the players back that didn’t get to say goodbye, who have the utmost respect from the club and myself as well.

“Hopefully that all comes together nicely and can be a really nice day.”

But, the situation has since changed somewhat, with Cook helping Forest climb from eighth position when he joined, up into the play-offs and ultimately to promotion, alongside Cherries.

So while Cook has been promised a testimonial at some stage by Cherries, the Daily Echo understands no plans are currently in place for that to occur during this pre-season.


AFC Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest in Championship game at Vitality Stadium. AFC Bournemouth gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League. Mark Travers, Lloyd Kelly and Jaidon Anthony.

Cherries are in Premier League action in seven weeks


Kit launch

Another question always on fans' lips at this time of the summer is - when can we get our hands on the new kit?

Occasionally in the past the unveiling either the home, away or third strip has coincided with the unveiling of a new arrival into the club.

But at present, the plan is for the new kits to be revealed at some point in July, with filming dates for launch videos pencilled in.