Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe feels the imminent return of “big players” like midfielder Lewis Cook can help kick-start their campaign.
England international Cook is in the final stages of rehabilitation from the serious knee injury he suffered last season.
The 22-year-old played an hour against QPR in a closed-doors friendly and could come into contention for a place in the squad for Sunday’s Premier League match against Everton.
With club captain Simon Francis also back in the fold following his own long-term knee problem, Cherries boss Howe hopes they can have a positive impact on the rest of the group.
“This weekend might come a bit too early for Lewis Cook, he’s trained now for a sustained period of time and looked really good,” Howe said.
“He is getting closer and closer and I will have to make a late call on him.”
Howe told a press conference: “It is a huge boost to the team when you consider players like Simon Francis and Lewis Cook all beginning to be back involved around the training group.
“They are big players for us and we are really looking forward to getting a healthy squad back together.”
Summer signing Lloyd Kelly is another set to return to full training after the defender sustained an ankle problem during pre-season.
“Lloyd Kelly, touch wood, will be training today, which is his first training session back,” Howe said of the former Bristol City player.
“He won’t be involved this weekend, but it’s a good step forward where he is around the training group and we will look to get him a game as soon as possible.”
Despite the positive news, Bournemouth still have plenty of players in the treatment room.
Dutch forward Arnaut Danjuma should be stepping up his match fitness work following a foot problem but defender Charlie Daniels is now facing a lengthy spell of recovery from surgery after sustaining a dislocated kneecap.
Wales midfielder Chris Mepham will be assessed having been substituted during the midweek friendly against Belarus.
Bournemouth host Everton on Sunday looking to recover from successive 3-1 defeats before the international break.
“For me the start of the season has been that we’ve shown flashes of what we can do,” Howe said.
“The challenge is to find our true level and hit that consistently.”
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