CAPTAIN Simon Francis says the understanding between the long-serving rearguard can help Cherries tighten up at the back.

Cherries have kept four clean sheets in 22 Premier League games this season, the most recent of which was against Swansea in November.

Only Stoke, West Ham, Huddersfield and Watford have conceded more goals in the top flight this season.

Against Brighton in Cherries' last league game, Francis lined up alongside Adam Smith, Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels – all players who have featured for the club in the top three tiers.

And Nathan Ake has impressed at centre-half since arriving permanently from Chelsea in the summer, the Dutchman earning a regular starting spot under boss Eddie Howe.

Francis told the Daily Echo: "Nath has fitted in seamlessly as if he has been here for five or six years, so credit to him, he has been phenomenal.

"We did very well to get him back following his loan here last season. He wanted to come here and is enjoying his football.

"The rest of the lads know each other inside out. I know we have let in too many goals over the past few weeks so that's something we need to put right.

"But no matter which players play, you know your job in this back four and that's important."