CHRIS Mepham believed a positive attitude in training had helped his return to the Cherries side after the disappointment of being substituted in the first half at Southampton.

The Wales international was brought off after just 23 minutes as Cherries came under intense pressure in the early stages against their south coast rivals, with the introduction of Ryan Fraser guiding Eddie Howe’s men to a 3-3 draw.

The clash at St Mary’s had been the former Brentford talent’s 10th consecutive appearance in the starting XI, however, he watched on from the dugout for the entirety of the victory against Tottenham the following week.

He again had to settle for a place on the bench for the final fixture of the season at Crystal Palace before being introduced for the last 20 minutes at Selhurst Park.

Discussing his response to the early withdrawal at Southampton, Mepham told the Daily Echo: “I’ve just kept working hard on the training pitch.

“When you’re not in the team you’ve got to prove to the manager in training because that’s the only time you can express yourself.

“I haven’t let my attitude drop.

“I’ve tried to keep the same mindset and keep working hard and the rest will look after itself.

“Hopefully, I’ll get back on the pitch come next season.”

Mepham made an instant impact after his introduction at Selhurst Park, providing an assist for Joshua King in the 5-3 loss.

But with Steve Cook and Jack Simpson the preferred centre-back options from the start for the final two matches of the season, the 21-year-old had to play the waiting game.

Reflecting on being substituted at St Mary’s, Mepham said: “It was obviously not ideal and not what you want to do.

“But the gaffer picks the team and I respect his decision.

“I can understand why I came out of the team.

“Obviously, my performance at Southampton wasn’t good enough so I had to bide my time and it was good to get back on the pitch at Crystal Palace.

“He (Howe) didn’t have to but when I came off (at Saints) I think he wanted to reassure me that it wasn’t personal and it was a tactical change, which is obviously nice.

“Sometimes you might come off and a manager doesn’t speak to you.

“He keeps you guessing what you’ve done wrong.

“In that game I knew why I came off but it was nice for him to pull me over and just reassure me that everything is going to be all right.”

Mepham added: “I think he is very good with that. He manages his players very well.

“I spoke to him last week and he’s reassured me that he’s got high hopes for me, which is obviously nice to hear.”