SIMON Francis admits he "came to the realisation" during his nine-month injury lay-off that he would "no longer be playing 42 games a season at right-back".

The Cherries skipper ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a 5-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Boxing Day in 2018.

After the lengthy lay-off, Francis returned to play again in September last year and has gone on to play 18 times in total this season.

Now 35, the defender admits he has had to change his approach to maximise the remainder of his career.

Writing in The Sun, Francis said: "He (Eddie Howe) took my game on to another level that I didn’t know I had in me — probably due to a lack of confidence — and taught me loads about the game. We grew closer when he gave me the armband a few years ago, which was a huge honour, and closer still during my nine-month lay-off with a serious knee injury.

"Son Heung-min produced a lovely bit of skill with a step-over and a turn to get away from me and as my body shifted weight on to my left side, my right knee gave way.

"My son Jude still talks about it now whenever he sees Son on the telly. He says, ‘Is that the one who injured you, daddy?’

"I have to tell him that he didn’t injure me!

"During those long nine months, the manager and I began speaking about life and family.

"I would come in every day and the last thing I wanted to be asked about was my recovery.

"He understood that as he had to retire from playing because of his own injuries. I’d ask him how he got into the game, what he did after, about moving away from home, about his kids, about his plans for life after football.

"The nearer I got to fitness, the more we spoke about the game, tactics and players.

"I came to the realisation that I would be unable to return to the form I had in the Championship and earlier in the Premier League due to the injury and my age.

"I would no longer be playing 42 games a season at right-back for this club any more and would have to adapt.

"But the manager was great, telling me that as captain he would need me more than ever, especially when times are hard.

"Eddie understands footballers’ mentalities and how, individually, they all need to be treated differently."