EDDIE Howe revealed he had been encouraged by the development of defender Jack Simpson.

The centre-back came off the bench late on at Brighton on Saturday to make his third Premier League appearance, taking to 11 matches his overall Cherries’ first-team tally.

The 22-year-old is currently behind Nathan Ake, Steve Cook and Chris Mepham in the pecking order at the Dorset club, but after a spate of defensive injuries has been a part of the matchday squad in all but three games this calendar year.

The Weymouth-born talent is one of several Cherries academy graduates in Howe’s first-team squad.

And the boss is pleased with Simpson’s progress.

Howe said: “Jack is in a good place. He is improving. He has shown a really good mentality and attitude in the second half of the season and a real desire to improve every day.

“He’s been doing a lot of one-to-one work with different people and coaches behind the scenes.

“I’m very happy with where his game is at and I know if he gets an opportunity, he will take it.”