HAVING often been an understudy while progressing through the ranks at Cherries, keeper Mark Travers did not hide the fact he was now relishing taking centre stage.

Thrust into the limelight in May 2019 with a memorable Premier League debut under Eddie Howe against Tottenham, the talented stopper burst on to the scene in the professional ranks in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

He played a supporting role to close pal Aaron Ramsdale in the top-flight season that followed, with many thinking the Maynooth-born man would then be elevated to first-choice stopper following Cherries’ relegation to the Championship.

But Travers again had to bide his time behind returning cast member Asmir Begovic, who starred on his return last season before moving on to join Everton this summer.

Travers was sent on loan to Swindon Town earlier this year, where he featured for eight games during a brief cameo in Wiltshire.

But now appears to be the time the keeper grasps the main challenge at Vitality Stadium. He has helped Cherries surge to the top of the second tier under new head coach Scott Parker this campaign.

The Republic of Ireland international again produced the goods with a superb reaction save off the head of Adam Smith following a deflected cross, during Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Luton Town.

So, what has it been like for him to step in as the main man between the sticks this campaign?

He told the Daily Echo: “It was just such a massive goal for me at the start of the season to play regular game time.

“I always knew there would be massive competition no matter what the situation.

“Of course, it keeps you on your toes and always pushing every day.

“There has been a few seasons where I haven’t got that regular game time and I think every player really wants to play every week and feel like they are part of it and giving back to the fans.

“I have just been trying to do my best on the pitch, work as hard as I can and I’m loving playing every week.

“That experience on a matchday – it’s great to get that at my age. There’s always little bits in a game, game management with different types of crosses and shots from different opponents you can learn so much from.

“I have learned loads and hopefully that can continue.”

Cherries of course brought in goalkeeper Orjan Nyland this summer, the Norwegian providing another option for Parker along with youngster Will Dennis.

And while Travers is hell-bent on not losing his regular spot in the side, he insisted the former Aston Villa man’s arrival had been beneficial.

“Ny’s been great since he has come in,” said the 22-year-old.

“He’s a big influence in the changing room, always offering his support and experience to all the lads.

“It’s great to have him in. We work well together each day, with Will Dennis as well, it’s good to have that experience alongside us.

“I will never switch off because I have to be on my toes as much as possible to try to keep that jersey.”

Victory against the Hatters on Saturday kept up Cherries’ unbeaten league record.

Them, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool are the only sides in the top four divisions not to have suffered defeat thus far.

Travers said: “It is a great start. We are still undefeated and we want to do that as long as possible – that would be ideal.

“But we know there is going to be ups and downs along the way. It’s just about staying together as a team, trying to be there at the end of the season pushing for promotion.

“It does breed a lot of confidence in the team when you are picking up points. It just shows the togetherness of the team.

“We have had tough moments but we have stuck together, grinded things out and got some good results.

“We know there will be difficult games and moments but we will stick together and keep this unbeaten run intact as long as possible.”

Travers is expected to keep his place when Cherries make the trip to Peterborough United on Wednesday (7.45pm).