EDDIE Howe revealed he had not ended Tyrone Mings's injury nightmare "to make him feel good" and insisted the towering defender had earned a return on merit.

Plagued by injury since his £8million arrival from Ipswich Town in June 2015, the 25-year-old sustained a stress fracture to his spine in the early stages of the campaign.

But on Saturday, Mings swept aside the memory of an eight-month spell on the sidelines when he came on in second-half stoppage-time during Cherries’ 1-0 win over Swansea City.

Discussing the centre-half’s return, Howe told the Daily Echo: "I didn't do it on sympathy or to make him feel good. I did it because I felt that was the best thing at that stage of the game – to get his height and presence on the pitch.

"I also did it because of the way he has trained for the past two weeks. I've been really impressed with him. He has come back from a serious injury and has looked really good so I was delighted to get him on the pitch.

"We value and rate him very highly and I'm really pleased for him.

"We have had a long wait through no fault of his own, just through sheer bad luck. I'd love for Tyrone to be injury free next year.”

The outing against Swansea was Mings’s 15th appearance since joining the Dorset club for a then club-record fee.

He spent more than a year out after suffering a knee injury six minutes into his Premier League debut against Leicester City in August 2015.

Cherries captain Simon Francis was pleased to see Mings on the pitch again and hailed his “immense character” in putting behind him a second serious setback.

Francis said: "It is very nice to see him back because he has had a tough couple of years. He is a good professional and I have felt for him at times.

"I think it's been a learning curve for him more than anything, having to wait for his chance and then picking up the injuries he has had. He has shown immense character.

"He is a confident lad and I think that's why he has got back in the shape he has.

"You heard the cheer when he headed the ball against Swansea and it was probably the loudest cheer of the afternoon, which says it all.

“It’s tough to outdo Nathan Ake as a left-sided centre-half but I’m sure Tyrone will have a say in the team next season, as everyone will.”

Mings, who will hope to feature when Cherries round off their Premier League campaign at Burnley on Sunday, has a number of interests outside his first-team career at Cherries.

He recently became an ambassador for Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion organisation.

The Bath-born ace oversees an academy in his name which provides coaching for children in the south west, while he and friend Katie Thomas run Bournemouth-based interior design business KTM Design.