IF Cherries boss Eddie Howe were to pick a side of unsung heroes, Wes Fogden would be one of the first names on the team-sheet every week.
Having waited in the wings, Fogden has seized his chance with both hands since Howe restored him to the starting line-up in the FA Cup win at Carlisle.
A model of consistency against the Cumbrians, the omnipresent Fogden played a starring role as Cherries took into double figures their unbeaten league run at Scunthorpe on Saturday.
In both games, he combined energy-sapping and eye-catching exhibitions of wing play with opportunist goals and was a constant menace to the opposition.
An honest and game competitor, Fogden has worked tirelessly to establish himself second time round in the pro ranks having been released by hometown club Brighton in 2008.
Following spells in non-league with Dorchester and Havant & Waterlooville, he joined Cherries in October 2011, making 27 appearances for the club during his first season.
Although a nasty shoulder injury disfigured his summer and pre-season, leaving Fogden to play catch-up, fitness was never likely to be an issue for the 24-year-old.
But as Howe is quick to point out, there is a lot more to Fogden’s game than just his incredible athleticism.
“Wes is a hard worker and a real team player but has got ability as well,” said Howe. “He is a very good footballer, he has quality on the ball and you can’t underestimate that.
“He can play a number of different positions left and has got a lot of tools. That is why he is such a valued member of our squad.”
Asked whether he could see any comparisons between Fogden and John Bailey or Wade Elliott, both non-league finds for Cherries, Howe replied: “I would say he is different to both. He is his own man.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from and who you have played for has no bearing on it. Wes is here on merit.
“I have a lot of respect for players who come through the non-league route because it is the hardest way to get into the game.
“Wes has certainly got the fire inside him to want to improve and to keep his place and I have been very impressed with him.”
At 18, Fogden, who was then on Brighton’s books, had surgery to remove a tumour which had been eating into his spine. He spent three months in a restrictive body cast before working his way back to fitness.
Cherries’ stand-in skipper Tommy Elphick, who was also at Brighton at the time, progressed through the Seagulls youth ranks with Fogden.
Elphick said: “We grew up together and played in the same teams from 12 onwards. Wes has always been the same and what you see, is what you get.
“He is a pocket rocket and he really gets stuck in. He surprises a few people and people underestimate him due to his size. What he lacks in size, he certainly makes up for in heart.
“He had a tough start to his career due to injury and serious illness. I have always kept an eye on his progress and, when I saw he had signed here from Havant, it was great to see him getting back into the pro game because he deserves every success he gets.”