DETERMINED Nathan Ake vowed to graft in a bid to earn his spot in a Netherlands team he believes is “growing” under boss Ronald Koeman.

The Cherries defender, who has played in every Premier League match since moving to Dorset on a permanent deal from Chelsea in the summer of 2017, is part of his national squad to take on Portugal in the climax of the Nations League in Porto on Sunday (7.45pm).

Ake had been an unused substitute as the Dutch on Thursday overcame England 3-1 after extra-time in the last four.

And while he faces tough competition from the likes of stars Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk, the former Feyenoord youngster believes it is an exciting set-up to be a part of.

Assessing the state of his national team at present, Ake said: “I think the past few years a lot of old legends were at the end of their careers in the national team and a lot of the young players are stepping up now.

“Memphis (Depay) is doing superbly now for the national team. You have Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt now – young players who are doing really well.

“I think everyone in Holland feels the team is growing, the players are growing and there is still so much to come hopefully.

“Obviously the defence is very tough to get in at the moment. I have Van Dijk in front of me, but I just have to keep working hard and see what chances are coming.”

Having reached the World Cup final in 2010 followed by a third-placed finish in 2014, Netherlands had struggled to replicate that form in the following years.

They failed to qualify for both Euro 2016 and last year’s World Cup with Koeman now the fourth boss installed since Louis van Gaal resigned in 2014 –there were also spells under Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind and Dick Advocaat.

But the tide appears to be turning for the Oranje. Koeman has won six of his 13 matches in charge.

Ake, who was twice part of a Dutch side which won the under-17 European Championship, is enjoying life working under the former Everton and Southampton manager.

The Den Haag born star, who has won 10 senior international caps, said: “For more than a year now since the manager has been here, it’s been all good.

“He always watches the games and keeps in contact now and then to see how it’s going.

“He’s brought us together. I think we’re more of a team now.

“There’s a lot of young players and a lot of players doing well at the highest level, so it’s exciting times and hopefully we can deliver.”

Ake scored his first senior international goal under Koeman in a Friendly against Italy in June 2018.