CHRIS Mepham admitted he was "surprised" to see close mate Harry Wilson still plying his trade in the Championship, as the pair prepare to go head-to-head on Friday night.

Former Cherries star Wilson currently sits top of the table with Fulham, one point ahead of Wales teammate Mepham's side.

But the lead could change hands again, if Scott Parker's men can pull off victory at Craven Cottage, against his former employers.

Wilson, 24, made 35 appearances for Cherries during a season on loan from Liverpool in the 2019-20 campaign.

While he could not prevent Eddie Howe's side from suffering relegation, the Wrexham-born talent did notch seven Premier League goals.

But Wilson has since spent the majority of his time in the second tier, a season on loan at Cardiff before joining Fulham on a permanent deal for £12million over the summer.

Wilson has been a key part of Marco Silva's side so far this campaign, scoring six goals in 16 appearances.

Cherries centre-back Mepham, who competed at Euro 2020 with Wilson during the summer, told the Daily Echo: "I’m really close to him. He’s probably one of my best mates, definitely in football, but even outside of football. Someone that I’m really close to.

"But certainly on Friday there will be no friendship on the pitch, I’ll make sure he knows that!

"He’s started the season really well, contributing to a lot of assists for (Aleksandar) Mitrovic and certainly settled in really well.

"And it’s not a surprise because he’s a top player.

"I’m sure everyone saw that here and he’s someone that will have a very good career going forward I’m sure."

Asked if he was surprised that Wilson was not still in the Premier League, Mepham added: "Yeah, I am surprised. Certainly looking at the impact he had at times at Bournemouth, I remember him coming off the bench at Spurs away, scoring two goals and he’s got that quality to do that.

"I think the important thing for him, and certainly his girlfriend, was just having a base rather than going on loan here, there and everywhere.

"It was important he sort of settled in somewhere and could see it as somewhere to be at home.

"They’re obviously a team that’s going to be competing at the top of the league this year so I’m sure that’s his aim."

Wilson scored for Cardiff to earn them a 1-1 draw against Cherries last season.