CHRIS Mepham explained how he spun his unique role as a late substitute in recent months into a positive, insisting: "This season I’ve felt like I’ve had a responsibility."

Following an injury to Lloyd Kelly, Mepham has been restored to Cherries' starting line-up for the past two matches, starting alongside Gary Cahill. He also featured in an unfamiliar left-back role as cover for the injured Jordan Zemura in the recent defeat to Preston.

Prior to making the XI for the clash with the Lilywhites on November 3, it had been more than two months since Mepham had started a match for Cherries.

Of his 15 appearances this season, seven have been as a substitute, generally being introduced for the final 10 minutes of matches in which Cherries were holding onto a lead.

Boss Scott Parker regularly praised the attitude of Mepham for his displays off the bench, before recalling the Wales international to his starting line-up in recent weeks.

Asked how he adjusted mentally to his role of late substitute for two months, Mepham told the Daily Echo: "For me I kind of saw it as a positive, not in the sense of not playing, of course anyone that isn’t playing wants to play and will be frustrated when they’re not playing.

"But in the sense that I felt like I still had a responsibility to help the team.

"Of course, when you’re on the bench as a centre-back, normally you kind of feel like unless there’s an injury, you probably won’t be introduced to the game.

"But certainly this season I’ve felt like I’ve had a responsibility, in terms of when we are sort of hanging onto a lead, to be the guy to come on and help secure things up at the back and get us over the line.

"I’ve enjoyed that responsibility, but of course we’re all here to play and of course I’m going to be much more motivated to start.

"I’m in a position now where, albeit through injury, I’ve got an opportunity now for however long it is to get hopefully a run of games and hopefully I can contribute to some good team performances and results."

Mepham looks likely to continue in the side for tomorrow's visit of fifth-placed Coventry City to Vitality Stadium (3pm), with Kelly still struggling with a quad injury.

Cherries comfortably dispatched of the Sky Blues twice last season, winning 3-1 at St Andrew's before a 4-1 home triumph.

However, Mark Robins's men have improved this campaign. Having finished 16th in their first season back in the second tier, Coventry currently lie fifth after a fine start.

Quizzed on why he feels tomorrow's opponents have shown such a vast improvement this term, Mepham said: "I haven’t seen loads of them, but you can see where they are in the league and from what I’m aware they’re playing some really good football.

"They’ve got a good manager that wants to play an attractive brand of football.

"We know we’ll be in for a real test tomorrow and I think it’s the same as every week, there’s no easy game in the Championship.

"But when the teams are in and around you, it puts a little bit more emphasis on beating them."