ANDONI Iraola believes Illia Zabarnyi “gives the team a lot of things” as he explained why he has stuck with the Ukrainian for every league game to date.

Zabarnyi, in his first full season in England, is the only Cherries player not to have missed a minute of Premier League action so far, in the opening 12 matches.

The centre-back was restricted to just 297 minutes of action for his new club last season, having joined for around £24million from Dynamo Kyiv in January.

Across league and cup, he has already played almost five times as much for Cherries this term, establishing himself as a key part of the team under Iraola.

In mitigation, an injury hampered Zabarnyi shortly after his arrival.

But he still had a lengthy wait for his first league start, largely playing second fiddle to Jack Stephens before former boss Gary O’Neil used the final three games of the campaign to give the defender game-time, with Cherries’ Premier League survival ensured.

This season, the 21-year-old has kept his place in the team, either alongside Marcos Senesi, Lloyd Kelly or Chris Mepham.

Asked what he likes about Zabarnyi that has seen him retain his place, head coach Iraola told the Daily Echo: “I think Illia is a very, very solid centre-back.

“I think defensively he is very good in duels.

“I think for someone with his strength, he is quite comfortable, even if he is far (from his goal). He can follow the forwards far, because he also has the speed.

“Like all the centre-backs and all the keepers, he will sometimes make mistakes. We know this. He is very young.

“But I think he gives the team a lot of things.”

Zabarnyi had a particularly difficult day during the abject 3-0 defeat at Everton in October.

His slip gifted the Toffees the opening goal and he was fortunate another error early in the second period went unpunished.

Discussing the Ukraine international’s reaction to mistakes, Iraola said: “I think for someone of his age, he has experience.

“He has played with his national team and previously in European competition with his previous club.

“I think maybe not so much Premier League experience, but he is getting it now.

“I think he is also pretty reliable. He can make mistakes, but he is not someone that is going to make a mistake and then go down from there.

“I think he is pretty consistent. I am happy that (after Everton) he had a very good performance with Chris (Mepham). I think we have to build from there.”

Zabarnyi is gearing up for a huge encounter with his nation Ukraine tonight.

They face Italy in a winner-takes-all showdown in Leverkusen, the victors guaranteed of a spot at next summer’s European Championship finals.

Both countries currently have 13 points in Group C of qualifying from seven matches, only trailing leaders England.

Zabarnyi will be expected to start and add to his 31 international caps.