ADAM Smith believes he has “matured” as part of Cherries’ resolute backline and insisted: “I feel like a proper defender now.”

The attack-minded full-back did a dazzling job of keeping quiet Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford on Saturday, helping Eddie Howe’s men to a 1-0 victory at Vitality Stadium.

Former Tottenham youngster Smith has helped the Dorset club to three consecutive Premier League clean sheets, having returned from a hamstring injury against Norwich last month.

Smith made 42 appearances while on loan at Cherries during the 2010-11 campaign before re-joining permanently in January 2014.

And with 127 top-flight appearances now under his belt, the Londoner believes his experience is starting to show.

He told the Daily Echo: “I feel like a proper defender now!

“When I was younger, I was a bit more naïve with my defending. I think as you get older, I am a defender, so I do need to defend first.

“Whatever comes with going forward is obviously a bonus but my main job is to keep clean sheets, help the centre-halves and the keeper defend well.

“I have a lot of experience and a feel I am one of the senior members of the team now.

“It is a little bit more boring for me! But it’s a good thing that I have matured and it’s showing in the results.”

He added: “I like to attack and on Saturday I couldn’t really do as much. Rashford’s a big threat.

“Before the game I did clips with the gaffer to stop him. He is one of their most threatening players. I was a little more defensive in locking him out. That’s what you have to do sometimes for the team.

“He had been on form in the past few weeks but it didn’t make me scared or anything. Preparation is the best thing really – doing clips on him was only going to help me.”

Only Diego Rico, Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing have made more tackles than Smith for Cherries in the league this season.

Asked about the defender’s impact since his return from injury, Howe told the Daily Echo: “He can be very pleased with his return to the team.

“I thought he defended really well on Saturday. He was up against one of the best players in Europe at the moment in Marcus Rashford and I thought he got his game really strong.

“He’s very good on transitions - that’s where Rashford is so strong. He defended well one-v-one and you saw a couple of headers at the back post which were very valuable for us too.

“I think you are seeing a change in him slightly. He has done a lot of work on his defending since he signed for us.

“At this level, you are judged on your defending first and your attacking second. His defending has improved so much.

“Now he is entering a different stage of his career – he’s seen a lot. He’s got a lot of experience behind him and I think that’s definitely helping him in certain moments.”