SKIPPER Tommy Elphick has vowed to seize the early-season initiative and go all-out to secure a long term future with Cherries.

The 26-year-old, a £200,000 signing from Brighton in August 2012, is entering the final season of his initial Dean Court contract.

Having been voted the Daily Echo/Micky Cave player of the season during Cherries’ march to promotion from League One, a thigh strain combined with the emergence of Elliott Ward initially kept Elphick out of the starting XI last term.

But the club captain soon re-established himself as a regular starter and forged an imposing partnership with Steve Cook at centre-half as Cherries hit their stride in the second half of last season.

And with Ward still working his way back to fitness following knee surgery in April, Elphick is determined to reaffirm his role in the club’s ambitious plans.

Elphick told the Daily Echo: “For me, coming into the last year of my contract, I want to make up the gaffer’s mind for him and do that pretty early.

“You look across the country and there are not many clubs with a forward-thinking management team like ours and an owner who is prepared to back us.

“We are a very fortunate bunch of players and, of course, I want to continue to be a part of that. This is a genuinely progressive club and one of the very few in the country that can honestly say that.

“It’s a great feeling to come in every day and know that standing still is not an option. Everything at the club is geared up to make you succeed.

“People talk about the rewards you get in this game but there is no bigger reward for me than winning, it’s a feeling you cannot replace and that winning mentality runs throughout this group.

“Whether you’re in the first year or the last year of your contract makes no difference to how you approach things, this club won’t wait for people so you’ve got to be at it every day whoever you are.

“I’m a firm believer that if you apply yourself correctly and play to the best of your ability, things tend to take care of themselves and, as always, I’ll be giving everything to impress the manager.”

Meanwhile, Elphick insists that despite appearing an obvious choice for a starting berth, he is taking nothing for granted.

“If me or Cooky took our foot off the gas, the gaffer wouldn’t think twice about bringing someone in,” he added.

“We might be the established centre-halves in the squad now but we have good youngsters like Baily Cargill knocking on the door, while the likes of Simon Francis and Ian Harte are experienced defenders and quite capable of stepping into that role.

“The bottom line is that if you’re not pulling your weight, you know you will soon be replaced.”