CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe admitted January recruit Chris Mepham had cushioned the blow of losing Steve Cook to injury.

Centre-half Mepham, 21, has earned positive reviews since joining Cherries from Brentford for a fee believed to be £12million.

The Wales international, who has started the past four Premier League games, was in imperious form when Cherries kept a clean sheet in the win at Huddersfield on Saturday.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “The defence was strong. I have to highlight Chris Mepham who was outstanding.

“He is fresh into the Premier League and it is a big jump from the Championship.

“He is young but has taken it in his stride. Steve Cook is a big miss for us but Meps has stepped in very well.”

Cook is expected to spend five to six weeks on the sidelines after picking up an infection following a groin injury.

Discussing further the victory at Huddersfield, Howe said: “I thought the back four were hugely impressive, considering we had to make a change with Adam Smith’s injury.

“I was really pleased to see the clean sheet because we know when we have the team looking like it did at Huddersfield, we have the ability to score goals.

“That will be a real confidence lift for the players.”