IMPRESSED skipper Tommy Elphick reckons Dean Court's new state-of-the-art playing surface can hand Cherries a competitive edge over their Championship rivals.

Cherries' new fibre-sand pitch received a test drive during last Friday's 1-0 home defeat to Southampton following a £750,000 summer overhaul funded by owner Maxim Demin.

Three matching surfaces - one in the stadium and two at the club's King's Park training base - have been laid, each accompanied by an artificial 3G surround and new irrigation system.

After the first outing, Elphick argued that the pitch offered a more solid footing which would allow Cherries to match the brisk tempo of their more fluent second-tier opponents.

And with the benefit of training in identical conditions throughout the week, the commanding centre half believes the work will make a substantial difference once winter takes hold.

Elphick told the Daily Echo: “The pitch feels a lot firmer, especially when you plant your foot and you get a much better response when you take off. The old pitch was very soft and sometimes it took you a bit longer to turn.

“It hasn't fully bedded in yet and a few divots came up in the Southampton game but they were easily replaced and it didn't break up. It plays well and the ball rolls much quicker with no nasty surprises which will play into our hands.

“Having exactly the same surface on the training ground will give the lads extra confidence in their decision making and help to prevent any silly injuries.

“In the past, we went from training on a hard surface all week to playing on a soft surface. You definitely feel it and it takes more out of you.

“Last season, we experienced state-of-the-art pitches at places like Reading and Brighton and you could tell the difference straight away. They were able to move the ball much quicker than us at times so training on that kind of surface and having it at home will be a massive plus going forward.

“The quicker you move the ball from Monday to Friday, the quicker you can move it on a Saturday.”

And Elphick added that have a stellar surface would act as a psychological boost during the murky mid-season months.

The captain continued: “When we played at home on the back of some bad weather, you would arrive at the ground wondering what the pitch would play like.

“Last season the winter wasn't too harsh and we were lucky that the ground staff did such a fantastic job and the pitch came through fairly well.

“The year before that was pretty bad, though. When the frost kicked in, that was the end of the playing surface and we had to adapt our game a little bit.

“We are always planning for the long-term so being able to play our own game without worrying about the pitch is great and I think we will really start to notice the benefit in the winter months.”