England recognition not beyond Steve Cook on current form – Eddie Howe
The centre-back has been ever-present in the top flight this season.
Eddie Howe believes Bournemouth defender Steve Cook is on the radar of England boss Gareth Southgate and has “every chance” of earning international recognition based on current form.
Centre-back Cook marked his 150th Premier League appearance in style by captaining the Cherries to Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.
The 28-year-old has been ever-present in the top flight this term and played an integral role in Bournemouth recording three successive clean sheets.
Southgate will this week name his squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo and Cherries manager Howe feels Cook can force his way into national team contention.
“I would never say that’s beyond him,” Howe said of Cook’s England chances.
“I think there was a spell, maybe two years ago, where I felt he was playing very well and would be a definite option for England. That never quite happened for him.
“But if he continues to perform like that then I think he will have every chance. I’m sure they (England’s coaching staff) are aware of him, for sure.
“They will be aware of everybody. Gareth leaves no stone unturned. All he’s got to do is to continue to perform at his consistent best for us.
“Displays like (Saturday) – where he was, for me, pretty faultless throughout the game – are certainly going to do his cause no harm.”
Cook joined Bournemouth, initially on loan, from Brighton in 2011 and has helped the south coast club rise from League One to become established in the top flight during 293 league appearances.
He led by example on Saturday, including producing a superb last-ditch tackle to deny United forward Marcus Rashford an equaliser, as Joshua King’s goal earned Bournemouth their first win in five league games.
Howe thinks the solid centre-back pairing of Cook and Holland international Nathan Ake is among the best partnerships formed during his time at the Vitality Stadium.
“They are definitely up there. They compliment each other very, very well,” said Howe.
“You’ve got Cookie, who is a very aggressive aerially who loves to defend, very good on crosses, and Nathan reads the game so well and he has that composure about him that you notice instantly.
“They are playing very well together and long may that continue.”
Meanwhile, Howe revealed injured midfielder David Brooks will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Wales international Brooks enjoyed an impressive debut season in Dorset after joining from Sheffield United but is yet to feature this term because of ankle ligament damage suffered in pre-season.
“He’s OK, he’s getting there. He’s worked incredibly hard on his fitness,” said Howe.
“We still haven’t seen him train with us. Until he gets to that point, still a way to go.”