CAPTAIN Tommy Elphick was impressed with the hunger shown by his team-mates to keep a clean sheet against Huddersfield.

Cherries opened their Championship campaign with a 4-0 victory in West Yorkshire and the centre-half was as pleased with the shutout as he was by the visitors’ attacking prowess.

The Dean Court side kept 10 clean sheets in all competitions last season and Elphick, 26, revealed that boss Eddie Howe had emphasised his desire for an improvement.

Elphick told the Daily Echo: “The message before the game was that clean sheets were going to be just as important as goals this season.

“You can play open, expansive football but when it’s time to defend and get behind the ball you need to have the mentality to do that. I think we showed that on Saturday, even at 4-0 up with a minute to go. We defended set pieces as if it was still 0-0.

“The discipline of the centre-midfielders and the wingers especially was pleasing. Callum Wilson and Yann Kermorgant put in a shift as well and that helped make the work of the back four easier.”

Elphick ended the day with an assist after his lofted pass down the right flank led to Wilson scoring Cherries’ second goal.

The early ball into the channels was a regular feature of the away side’s play and the ex-Brighton defender felt it was an effective tactic.

He added: “I think we exposed their 3-5-2 formation quite well. When the strikers pull wide it gives the wing-back and the wide centre-half something to think about.

“I’m more pleased with the clean sheet than the assist, although it was nice to set up a goal and Steve Cook played a good ball for one of the goals as well.”