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First Team

Boss on Mepham signing

Chris Mepham poses with a shirt pitchside with Eddie Howe and Neill Blake.

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe welcomed the arrival of Chris Mepham, a player he says “fits the mould for us as a defender”.

Mepham this week became Howe’s second permanent signing of the January transfer window when he joined the Cherries from Brentford.

Howe revealed the club had tracked the 21-year-old Wales international “for a long time” and said he hoped Mepham would “maximise his potential” at Vitality Stadium.

In an interview with afcbTV, Howe said: "Chris is very comfortable on the ball, composed in possession, he makes a lot of good decisions, has good defensive instincts and a good mentality.

"We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with him. He’s a fantastic age with a lot of potential to be an outstanding player for us.

"We’re looking forward to developing and nurturing that potential, giving him the platform to progress his career here.

"There’s so much to like about Chris and, for that reason, we’ve taken a great interest in his career to this point.

"It’s very difficult to find defenders who can do everything and we’re looking for those qualities in the players we bring in.

"The ability to play, to defend, to be athletic and to have a good attitude – getting all those things is incredibly difficult.

"But now we have the chance to work with Chris, it is about enhancing those attributes and working with him on a daily basis to maximise his potential."

Mepham, who made 48 competitive appearances for the Bees, including 43 in the Championship, trained on Wednesday with his new team-mates for the first time.

Howe added: "It’s very difficult to make predictions on how quickly people bed in to new surroundings, with new teammates and in a new league.

"I believe he has the ability to play immediately but he has had a couple of injuries recently so, although he is fit, we will need to manage him carefully in this new environment.

"But I’m sure he will be very popular with his new teammates and will fit straight in. He is also very much in keeping with the profile of the players we are looking at.

"Reducing the average age of our squad was something we prioritised around 18 months ago and it is very important that the squad is well balanced.

"I believe we have that balance back in terms of the age of the squad and the future looks very bright.

"We have a nice mix of centre-backs now, with Steve Cook and Nathan Ake performing very well.

"Cookie is an experienced player at this level and Nathan is developing that experience all the time.

"Behind them there is a really good balance, with a right and left-footer in Chris and Jack Simpson and it is great competition in an important position."

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