CHERRIES ace Chris Mepham would have liked to been able to spend more minutes on the pitch in recent weeks, but he revealed he has used that spare time wisely – to buy better Christmas presents!

Mepham has not featured for Cherries since December 8, where he suffered a calf injury in the goalless draw at Swansea City.

The defender is edging closer to a return to action, but has been unable to feature in the club's past three matches due to the problem.

But instead of travelling and playing games with the team, the Wales international has used the time to improve his shopping standards.

"Normally I’m very last minute dot com, but I’ve sort of learned from previous years," Mepham told the Daily Echo when asked if he is ready for the big day.

"It can be a bit embarrassing when everyone has put a lot of time and effort into getting presents and there’s me on the 24th going into Boots and getting soppy gift sets and stuff.

"I think this year I’ve put a bit more dedication and focus into getting nice presents and I’m pleased with what I’ve got.

"Hopefully all my family like them!"

With Cherries' Boxing Day contest against Millwall postponed due to some members of the Lions squad this week testing positive for coronavirus, Jason Tindall looks set to give his players a rare Christmas Day away from the training ground.

Cherries are next in action at Brentford on December 30.

"Obviously with what’s going on it’s a bit of a weird time so I don’t think there’s loads us players can really do anyway," said Mepham.

"But I think at the same time I think it’s nice to enjoy Christmas Day without having the football in the back of your head.

"Obviously we all want to be out there but it makes a change, bearing in mind this is probably the first year for a lot of the players where they haven’t got a game on Boxing Day.

"It means that you can properly relax on Christmas Day and spend some real quality time with your family."

Mepham lives on the south coast with girlfriend Jodie, with both of their families mainly based in London.

So like most people across the country this Christmas, the 23-year-old will be spending a quieter day at home, although he will also have sausage dog Nala for company.

Asked if he will get to see any of his family this week, Mepham said: "I think Christmas this year I’ve just got to obviously follow the guidelines and be sensible and obviously not put anyone at risk. I think it’s just going to be me and my girlfriend staying down here with our little dog.

"It’s obviously not ideal circumstances because normally I do meet up with my family.

"But with all that’s going on I think that’s the least of my worries. I think the most important thing is everyone stays fit and healthy and my family is the most important thing for me, so I wouldn’t want to put anyone at risk."

And Mepham admits for some members of Cherries' squad who live on their own, it will be a tough time.

"I think for them having football on Boxing Day helps because obviously the lads that are on their own might find it not the most enjoyable of days without all their family there," said Mepham.

"But at least you’ve got the game on the following day to wake up to. But obviously without that this year it probably will be quite a lonely time for them.

"But sacrifices need to be made this year for the good of the outcome and hopefully this time next year we’re all able to spend it with our loved ones."