LEWIS Cook made a big step in his road to recovery by featuring for an hour for Cherries in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Queens Park Rangers today and said: “hopefully I can put it all behind me now and focus on the future.”

The midfielder, who has been out of action since December following surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage in his right knee, played 60 minutes before being replaced as planned.

Cook, 22, showed some nice touches in central midfield alongside Philip Billing and rode a heavy challenge during an encouraging outing on the training pitches at Vitality Stadium.

Cherries ran out comfortable 6-1 winners with Jordon Ibe scoring a hat-trick against a youthful QPR side.

Discussing his return, Cook told the Daily Echo: “It felt good. Obviously it’s been a long road. I’m just buzzing to be back on the pitch with the shirt on just enjoying it.

“I feel like I could’ve played the rest of the game but obviously we’ve got to take precautions, take things slowly and just go from there.

“I’m just happy to be on the pitch and just playing football again. It’s positive today and I really enjoyed it.”

Cook has been back in full training for around three weeks with the rest of the squad filmed giving the former Leeds United ace a round of applause when he stepped back into his first session.

“They’ve been massive for me, the players and the staff and family and friends,” said Cook.

“They are the ones I see every day and they keep you going through the hard times, so hopefully I can put it all behind me now and focus on the future.

“It’s been good. It’s been a long journey, there have been milestones and this is another one.

“It’s just another part of the process, joining in training, joining in games and just working hard to get back into the matchday squad.”

Cook came out smiling after a robust 50:50 challenge shortly before being withdrawn.

And the former England under-21 captain was pleased to come through unscathed.

He said: “I had a big tackle which was good. I need things like that coming back into the games.

“It was a good one. I’ve had a few big ones (in training) but that was quite a big one today though!

“I was happy with that. Thanks to the guy who did it with me as well. I need people like that to help me.

“But I got a lot of the ball, did some nice things and the lads did well.”

Whilst Cook is eager to make his first-team return, he is also keen to remain patient to avoid any last-ditch setbacks after his lengthy recovery.

He said: “I want to get back when I’m 100 per cent sharp, 100 per cent ready. From today I feel good, I feel strong and I just want to carry on training, carry on playing and see what happens.

“I just want to make sure I’m giving 100 per cent in training, feeling back to my sharpest and just going from there, step by step.”

Ibe’s hat-trick and an Andrew Surman strike put Cherries 4-1 up at half-time against QPR, with the only defensive blot coming when Steve Cook inexplicably skewed a backpass beyond goalkeeper Will Dennis and into his own net.

Dominic Solanke netted two quick goals after the restart with clinical finishes in the 6-1 rout before members of the under-21s side were introduced for the final half an hour.

It could have been more for the hosts, who struck the post twice through Diego Rico and Jaidon Anthony, while Jake Scrimshaw missed a gilt-edged opportunity late on.

Cherries: Dennis; Stacey, S Cook, Simpson, Rico; Surman, L Cook, Billing, Anthony; Solanke, Ibe.