DEFENDER Chris Mepham insisted he was willing to play “anywhere for the good of the team” after making his return to Cherries’ line-up against Preston.

The Wales international, a centre-back by trade, lined up at left-back in place of the injured Jordan Zemura during the Dorset club’s 2-1 defeat to the Lancashire side at Vitality Stadium.

Mepham had not started a game for Scott Parker’s charges since a 0-0 draw with Hull City in August. He had played right-back earlier in the campaign against Nottingham Forest, Birmingham and Blackpool.

Asked about stepping in at left-back, the 23-year-old told the Daily Echo: “Obviously it’s not my natural position but anywhere for the good of the team, I will play.

“I knew JZ was struggling a little bit and I was waiting to see how he would come through.

“The manager spoke to me before the game, said he was going to put me there and that he’s got confidence in me playing there.

“That was good and I’d rather play than not play.

“There had been a lot of games this season where I have come on and tried to help us see games out.

“I got given a start on Wednesday, albeit out of position, but I think wherever you are given an opportunity it’s important you try to take it and give a good account of yourself – that’s all you can do.”

Goals from Ben Whiteman and Ali McCann ensured Cherries were handed their first league defeat of the Championship campaign.

The Dorset side are now two points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Swansea.

Mepham added: “The fact we had been 15 games unbeaten is a massive achievement. There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into that.

“Now it’s just how we react from Wednesday. If we let our heads drop and feel sorry for ourselves – that’s the worst thing we can do.

“We will just use this as a learning experience, an opportunity for us to get better. We have got a perfect opportunity on Saturday to put things right.

“It’s been an unbelievable start to the season but this is our first test, a test of character and I know we’ve got a group of lads that will brush it to one side and move on.”