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First team

Cook: We still have plenty to prove

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Defensive linchpin Steve Cook insists the Cherries still have plenty to prove as they prepare to start their fifth season in the Premier League.

Cook has played a pivotal role as Eddie Howe’s team have continued to hold their own in the top-flight for four years in succession.

The club’s leading appearance-maker in the Premier League, Cook has been a model of consistency since joining the Cherries when they were struggling near the foot of League One.

Eddie Howe’s team kick-off 2019/20 against Sheffield United, the Blades having earned two promotions in three years – a feat Cook achieved with the Cherries between 2013 and 2015.

Cook has started all four of the Cherries’ opening-day games in the top flight and was also involved the last time they hosted Sheffield United at Vitality Stadium – in League One in February 2013.

And while he knows Chris Wilder’s men will be desperate to hit the ground running, Cook says the Cherries are gunning to make their mark as they look for another fast start.

He told afcb.co.uk: “I will never forget the emotions we had coming into the Premier League. There was a lot of excitement and we had a lot to prove. No doubt it will be the same with Sheffield United.

“We know how we felt when we first came into the Premier League and Sheffield United and their supporters will have been looking forward to this game ever since they won promotion.

“It’s going to be a tough game because they are a very good side with some very good players. We’re at home and we want to have a similar start to last year.

“We still have that burning desire to succeed in our changing room and have a lot to prove. Apart from maybe the top four or six, I don’t think any team can ever say they are established in the Premier League.

“We were written off by most people before a ball had been kicked in our first season and that inspired and motivated us. We proved them wrong.

“We still want to improve and grow and that’s been shown by the signings we’ve made. Everyone is fighting for the shirt and they want to stay in the team. We need to keep producing performances to make sure the club keeps moving forward.”

Cook also says the club’s supporters will again have a big part to play as the Cherries bid to extend their stay in the top flight into a sixth season.

He added: “I’m feeling really positive about the season and I’m sure the fans are really looking forward to getting back in the swing of it and having us back on the pitch.

“They were a really big help last season when we went through a tough spell and we are going to need them again.

“This club has always needed the fans and I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing the atmosphere on Saturday and we are desperate to give them something to cheer.”

Cook will be hoping to feature against the Blades having had his first taste of pre-season playing action during the 3-0 win over Lyon after recovering from a persistent groin injury.

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