BOSS Eddie Howe heaped praise on the Cherries stalwarts who had held their own on the journey to the cusp of a fifth campaign in the Premier League.

With the Dorset club sitting 11th in the top flight on 33 points after 26 games, familiar faces have shown a new lease of life this season.

Goalkeeper Artur Boruc in January returned to league action for the first time in more than 18 months against West Ham and held on to the number one jersey.

Steve Cook has been ever-present for the past 37 Premier League outings since he was substituted during the defeat at Huddersfield a year ago.

Charlie Daniels and Junior Stanislas have battled injury problems to play their part and Adam Smith has offered consistent displays on both defensive flanks, while Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson have grabbed headlines for their attacking prowess.

Captain Simon Francis overcame a spell on the bench at the start of the campaign to deliver a string of strong performances before his anterior cruciate ligament rupture against Tottenham on Boxing Day.

Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman showed their worth in Cherries' fast start to the season and stepped up following Lewis Cook's injury in December.

At least five players in each of Howe's Premier League starting XIs this campaign featured in the Championship-winning season. And the boss revealed continuity had been the best way forward for the club.

He told the Daily Echo: "It has been healthy for us to take that approach.

"When you have players like we have had, with great attitudes and a willingness to learn, evolve and improve, they have deserved to be part of the journey we have been on together, with a few new faces to change the dynamic of the group.

"I don't think you can keep the same group because then it becomes stale and you have other challenges around that.

"It has been the right way for us but that is not to say it is the best way for everyone."

Cherries have made more than 20 permanent signings since promotion to the Premier League, with new additions testing the club's long-serving stars.

And Howe said those that remained deserved credit for their personal success.

"It is testament to them and their willingness to take on new challenges," added Howe.

"Every time we have brought in a new player they have been asked a question. Can they still prove they deserve to play ahead of the new ones coming in? And that is a nice battle to see from my side.

"It improves the quality of everything. You see a real fight from all sides and, ultimately, to have a successful team you need everyone fighting for the same thing to improve standards."