NATHAN Ake insists Cherries have remained mentally strong during their indifferent start to the Premier League season – and knows from experience they are hard to beat.

Ake played a starring role in the League Cup win at Morecambe on Wednesday, having come off the bench during the closing stages of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham.

The 21-year-old, who is on a season-long loan from Chelsea, will be hoping to have played his way into contention for tomorrow’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Dutchman Ake spent last season in a similar capacity at Watford and helped them to a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park in February as they comfortably secured their top-flight status.

Ake, Watford’s young player of the year, also featured in the Hornets’ 1-1 draw at Vitality Stadium in October and during the 0-0 stalemate at Vicarage Road in February.

He told the Daily Echo: “Bournemouth were really difficult to play against last season. They kept the ball really well and played fast and attractive football.

“When I was at Watford, we found them tough opponents. I knew that before I signed here so it was good to come.

“The mentality hasn’t dropped after the two losses. I think everyone knows the quality of the team and that we are difficult to beat.

“We saw that against West Ham, it was just in the last 10 minutes. It was a pity to get the red card.

“We just have to keep playing well and improving. Although we beat Morecambe, we know there are still a lot of improvements to make. We will look at that and, hopefully, improve for the next game.”

Ake, who featured predominantly at left-back for Watford, partnered Marc Wilson at the heart of defence against Morecambe.

“He added: “It was a physical challenge and was really difficult because they were big, strong lads. But Marc helped me a lot and won a lot of headers. It was difficult but we coped.

“If I play, I’m happy. I don’t mind playing centre-back. I want to try midfield sometimes as well to improve but we will see what happens this season. It is up to the manager. I just try to do my best and give 100 per cent.”

Boss Eddie Howe revealed in the summer that Ake’s versatility had been one of his biggest attributes and was delighted with his display at the Globe Arena.

Howe said: “Nathan doesn’t have the traditional build of a centre-back and is smaller in stature. But he has a great leap, he is brave and very good technically.

“For me, he has the whole package and I think he is going to be a very good player. He can play central midfield as well and he has that versatility.”