BOSS Jason Tindall described the return to fitness of Chris Mepham as a “huge boost”, adding: “Meps is such an important player for the football club.”

The centre-back came through an hour of Saturday’s 5-3 friendly victory at West Ham United, his first start since suffering a knee ligament injury against Luton Town in the FA Cup in January.

Mepham underwent surgery to repair the damage and has made just one competitive appearance since the 4-0 win over the Hatters, featuring for 10 minutes as a substitute in defeat to Newcastle United on July 1, where he again felt an issue in his knee.

The Wales international went under the knife for a second time in the summer, but now fit-again, will hope to available for Cherries’ Championship opener against Blackburn Rovers at Vitality Stadium tomorrow (3pm).

Asked how good it was see Mepham back in action last weekend, Tindall told the Daily Echo: “It was a huge boost. Meps is such an important player for the football club.

“So to have Chris Mepham back available is a huge boost. Especially obviously with Steve Cook picking up a niggle last week, we were light on the ground in terms of defenders but to see Meps get through the minutes that he did was great.”

Mepham, 22, signed for Cherries from Brentford for £12million in January 2019 and has made 28 appearances for the club, scoring once. He was enjoying a good run in the side last season before disaster struck against Luton.

“It was very unfortunate, the timing of Meps’s injury last season, because he was in great form,” said Tindall.

“He was doing exceptionally well and the injury came at the wrong time. He’s worked extremely hard since his knee operation to get himself back fit.

“He’s a great professional, great lad, wants to learn every day and it was great just to see him out there (against West Ham). Not only did he get through the game but he delivered a great performance. He’s going to be massive for the football club this year.”