EDDIE Howe believes the inclusion of Brett Pitman in Cherries’ starting XI against Blackpool is just one example of the strength in depth he has at his disposal.

With Yann Kermorgant absent due to a heel injury, Pitman played his first 90 minutes since January 14 in the 1-0 victory at Bloomfield Road.

The Jersey-born striker was a regular in the Cherries line-up as both a loan and permanent signing last season, scoring 19 goals in 28 appearances, but has found his chances more limited this term.

However, boss Howe feels Pitman is exactly the kind of player Cherries need if they are to be successful in the Championship.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think it shows the strength of our squad that we were able to bring in someone like Brett, who was our star performer last year, to help us get the win.

“That’s what we need – we need the strength of the squad to help us at all times and it is very strong at the moment.

“I thought Brett did really well. He showed a really mature side to his game and put in a really good performance for the team.

“He would have loved to score of course, but he worked incredibly hard, helped us defend set plays and stopped a lot of long balls forward by his hard running.”

Howe feels the quality of his squad is also indicated by his options in central midfield.

Harry Arter, who scored his first Cherries double in the 5-0 hammering of Doncaster, was sidelined due to a calf niggle, so Eunan O’Kane was restored to the starting line-up.

O’Kane had previously missed the 1-0 loss at Derby with a hip injury before remaining on the bench for the Donny triumph.

Howe added: “Eunan is a quality player so the fact he came back and looked like he hadn’t been away was a really good effort from him.

“I believe we have very good strength in the midfield department with Shaun MacDonald and Richard Hughes in there as well, so we’re very fortunate.

“Those players are top players and I still had the flexibility to change systems if I wanted, but we decided tactically that we wanted to go 4-4-2.”