TOMMY Elphick has defended the standard of League One and insists Cherries will leave no stone unturned in a bid to compete.

The centre-half has started every game during the six-match unbeaten run since Eddie Howe’s return to the Cherries hot-seat.

Some pundits have suggested that the third flight is not as strong as in previous years with big hitters such as Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic having claimed promotion last season.

But Elphick believes those claims are wide of the mark and he is vowing that Cherries will pull out all the stops in their attempts to challenge.

The former Brighton defender told the Daily Echo: “We are making small strides. We have got a lot of catching up to do and, slowly, we are getting there and closing the gaps that we need to be closing.

“A lot of people are saying it is one of the weakest the league has been for a few years, but I don’t believe that.

“I believe there are a few clubs that are setting out in different styles now and making it hard for teams, and there are still some good individuals in the league.

“We have just got to keep winning, keep plugging away and trying to close these gaps. All the while there are points possible, there is definitely time. With the form we are in at the moment, we have just got to carry it on and see how far it takes us.”

Elphick revealed Howe had made it clear what he expected from his team since succeeding Paul Groves.

He added: “There is no stone unturned and that is not just with the back four, that is us as a team.

“I think the longer the season goes on, the more we will see our identity and how the manager wants us to play.”