SIMON Francis praised fellow right-back Jack Stacey’s impact since he arrived at Cherries and believes his journey through the Football League will give him more “hunger” to succeed in the top flight.

Cherries signed defender Stacey from Luton Town in the summer for a fee of around £4million after the 23-year-old had helped the Hatters clinch back-to-back promotions from League Two up into the Championship.

It marked an impressive rise from the former attacking midfielder, who left boyhood club Reading in 2017 to join Luton, having come through their academy and featured six times in the second tier.

Despite still being relatively early into his professional career, Stacey is fairly well travelled having also spent loan spells at Barnet, Carlisle United and Exeter City at various levels in the pyramid.

But with the previous right-back incumbent Adam Smith nursing a hamstring injury, Stacey is now establishing himself as a Premier League player, debuting in the top flight against Everton last month and keeping his spot for the subsequent two league matches.

And Francis, who like Stacey rose through the Football League, has been impressed by what he’s seen so far from the summer recruit.

Cherries’ club captain told the Daily Echo: “He’s been great, Jack.

“He’s taken on board everything that the manager has thrown at him really. Pre-season he looked really fit, he’s a strong runner and him and Smithy have been battling it out at right-back.

“He certainly impressed in training and in pre-season. I’m pleased for him, along with some of the other young lads as well.

“They’ve had that career where they’ve started in the lower leagues and then built their way up and that’s great for confidence. It definitely gives you that hunger. It did for me and you also don’t forget where you’ve come from. You’ve played in the lower leagues so to be in the Premier League, I’m sure he’ll be chomping at the bit.”

Francis added: “I thought he played really well against Everton. He’s obviously come in for competition for Adam Smith and then he’s been biding his time because Smithy started the season really well. Unfortunately he picked up the injury against Leicester away from home and then Stace has come in and looked really good.

“It’s tough to get your Premier League debut under those circumstances against a good team like Everton, but I thought he was one of our standout players actually. I thought he performed really well under pressure. Very energetic, really athletic, got up and down well and suited us in those full-back areas.”

Stacey was not the only player Cherries snapped up from the lower leagues over the summer.

Lloyd Kelly also arrived from Championship outfit Bristol City and after recovering from injury, the 21-year-old made his first-team debut against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup last week.

That follows on from last season where Cherries dipped into the second tier to recruit rising stars David Brooks from Sheffield United and Chris Mepham from Brentford.

And Francis believes it would be hard to find a better boss than Eddie Howe at developing emerging talent.

The skipper said: “I think the manager is one of the best at bringing in younger players, recruiting from the lower leagues and improving players.

“We’ve seen that over the last few years with a lot of guys that are in the squad. The problem is nowadays you start going after players for a lot more money and the bigger clubs will be in for them as well. Then you start competing and you just can’t compete with the top teams when players want to sign for the big boys.

“You have to be cute in the market. I think he’s done excellently, the manager, in bringing in younger players who look like they’re going to improve their squad and then they’re only going to improve because of their age.

“I think it’s been a great couple of seasons in terms of bringing in players and hopefully they shine.”