MIDFIELD star Dan Gosling promised he would not allow his head to drop despite labelling as "very frustrating" his bit-part role for Cherries.

The former England Under-21 international started 29 Premier League games last term and featured in a further five from the bench, playing a key role as Eddie Howe's men comfortably retained top-flight status.

However, while midfielder Gosling has earned match minutes in all but one league fixture this season, he has started just one game, impressing in the 0-0 draw with high-fliers Tottenham 11 days ago.

But after Andrew Surman suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, ex-Newcastle United man Gosling could be handed an opportunity when basement-dwellers Sunderland arrive at Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

Asked if it had tested him not to be selected consistently, Gosling told the Daily Echo: “It’s very frustrating and very challenging mentally to keep your levels up.

"But that’s the only way to go about it. If your head drops or you start falling below your standards, when you do get a chance, you won’t take it. I like to stay as professional as I can.

“I was mentally prepared for the Tottenham game, whether I was on the bench or starting. I got the late call and performed very well and that was through hard work on the training ground and always being ready to play.

“I have a good relationship with the gaffer and the rest of the coaching staff. I feel when I’ve come in, I’ve taken every chance I’ve been given. I’ve come off the bench and affected games.

"That’s all you can do as a player – give the manager a problem every week. Hopefully, I can get a run of games. That’s what I want.

"No player is happy sitting on the bench and coming on for 10 or 15 minutes. But at the moment the gaffer sees that as the team and I will keep working hard to try and force my way in."

Howe stated in the immediate aftermath of the defeat at Boro that he expected Surman to be out for a matter of weeks, adding that the upcoming international break could provide a good opportunity for the ex-Norwich City midfielder to recover.

Gosling continued: “It’s unfortunate for Surs. I don’t know how bad it is, maybe one or two weeks, I’m not too sure.

“With him being out, there will be a place for someone else, whether that’s me or someone else, I don’t know.

“There is competition all over the pitch so you have to wait and bide your time. I’m ready to take my chance again and, hopefully, I will get a chance and kick on."

Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas are the only Cherries players to have netted more goals this season than Gosling, who has two efforts to his name.

The Brixham-born midfielder found the net in the 3-2 defeat to Preston in the EFL Cup and also registered in the 6-1 top-flight hammering of Hull City.