CHRIS Mepham says defensive injury woes proved costly for Cherries during the second half of the season.

The centre-back arrived from Brentford in January and featured in all but two games until the end of the season as Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Smith and Diego Rico all spent time on the sidelines.

And their absences were felt as Cherries won just three of their final 14 matches as they slipped to finish 14th in the Premier League.

Mepham told the Daily Echo: “It’s been tough this year. There’s been a lot of injuries.

“I know every team has their injury problems but for us it seemed to happen every week.

“It’s difficult when you’re losing big players in the squad and you’re constantly needing to rotate your team and adapt.

“I think the best teams in the league have their best starting XIs.”

He added: “Back fours, especially defensively trying to keep the ball out of the back of the net, is an important position.

“We know we’ve got quality in the team. We went away to Crystal Palace and scored three goals and at Brighton we scored five.

“We just need to make sure we tighten up at the other end.”