EDDIE Howe revealed how Artur Boruc had examined his own lifestyle and said: “This is the best shape I have seen him in.”

The evergreen shot-stopper, who turns 39 next month, was hailed for his professionalism by the Cherries boss after returning to Premier League action for the first time in more than 18 months.

Former Celtic and Fiorentina star Boruc kept a clean sheet during his top-flight comeback as Cherries beat West Ham 2-0 at Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

The Polish stopper’s previous Premier League start came at Burnley in May 2017 – 617 days previously.

Goalkeeper Boruc had fallen down the pecking order since Cherries swooped to sign Asmir Begovic from Chelsea for £10million.

But Howe insisted the Siedlce-born star had always been ready to step in if called upon due to his motivation to stay at peak condition.

He told the Daily Echo: “It’s a testament to Artur’s professionalism.

“He’d kept himself in really good shape and that’s where I pay testament to him. This is the best shape I have seen him in since we started working together.

“He has really looked into his diet, his lifestyle and has benefitted from that.

“He looks lean, motivated, trained well and deserved to play.

“Behind the scenes he has been so good in support of Asmir. Every day he’s had to come in, train and show a good attitude.

“He has had to travel, sit on the bench and not come on in a number of games, which is not easy to do at his age.”

Asked what it was like to keep Boruc motivated while in a supporting role, Howe replied: “You have to communicate with him and talk him through the processes, while maintaining his own personal standards, which Artur has done.

“Sometimes that can be difficult when you feel a long way from the team. The reality was he was only ever one minute from playing if something happened to Asmir.

“I am so pleased for him that there was a reward for all that patience and teamwork.”

Begovic had played 60 top-flight games in succession since arriving at Cherries before being left out against the Hammers.

Quizzed on what the Bosnian had to do to win back his place, the Cherries boss said: “He has to perform in training.

“There is no other remedy to getting in the team and I say this a lot to every player, whether they are a goalkeeper or an outfield player.

“You are defined by your training work and, of course, when you get your opportunity you have to try to grab it.

“I would back Asmir to work as he has done previously. His attitude and commitment to the team has never been in question.

“It was just that I felt I needed to make a change with the run we have been on. He will bounce back and he’s got a big part to play in our season.”