DEFENDER Chris Mepham vowed he would look to step up and be a leader for Cherries if called upon throughout their injury crisis.

The centre-half made his first league start since August when he came in for the injured Steve Cook during last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.

And with Nathan Ake now sidelined with a hamstring injury, Mepham insisted it was important for players to fill the void.

The 22-year-old told the Daily Echo: “I’d like to think I’ve always been quite vocal and a leader.

“I know I am only young still, but I don’t think that’s a reason for me not to be vocal, especially now with the injury to Nath.

“I think it’s important for people like myself to step up, be vocal and contribute to the team getting out of this run.

“Nath has been a rock at the back for us this year and the past couple of seasons. Everyone knows what a top defender he is.

“To lose someone like him is a massive blow but we can’t let that affect us going forward.

“I think whatever team the manager puts out is a team full of quality, that’s what we’ve got to see it as. We’ve got to get the belief back in the team.

“Hopefully I can keep the shirt and see what happens.”

Wales international Mepham is likely to keep his place for tomorrow’s trip to Chelsea (3pm), with Cherries looking to arrest a run of five consecutive defeats.

In 2012, he released from the Blues’ youth set-up.

He bounced back from unsuccessful trials at Watford and Queens Park Rangers to earn a scholarship with Brentford at the age of 16, having been spotted playing for North Greenford reserves.

“It’s always nice to go back to a team where you used to play. The most important thing will be getting the three points,” said Mepham.

“We just have to have in our heads that, on our day we can match anyone.

“We beat Manchester United earlier in the season – there is no reason why we can’t go to Stamford Bridge and take three points.”