EDDIE Howe insists Cherries must focus their full attention on completing the first stage of their grand plan before they can even consider trying to emulate the likes of Wigan.

Boss Howe and assistant Jason Tindall, whose team faces the Latics in the FA Cup today, were both involved when Cherries last locked horns with Wigan in the league in 2001-02.

Bankrolled by businessman Dave Whelan, who bought the club when it was in the bottom flight in 1995, Wigan won the old Division Two in 2003 before gaining promotion to the Premier League two years later, where they have remained ever since.

In a bid to propel Cherries to the Championship, co-owner Maxim Demin provided former bosses Lee Bradbury and Paul Groves with significant funds to bolster the playing resources, although both failed to get the squad firing on all cylinders.

And while Howe has been left to pick up the pieces and has masterminded a 16-match unbeaten run since his return in October, he is mindful the club needs to take one step at a time before thoughts can turn to trying to match Wigan’s achievements.

Asked by the Daily Echo whether Cherries could follow the Latics’ example and reach the Premier League, Howe said: “Wigan were always the big spenders of the division when we used to play them regularly but it took them a while to get up.

“Probably the hardest thing for them was getting from League One to the Championship. They completed the job and have become an established club in the Premier League.

“Looking at what we would have to do, we can’t look too far ahead. We have got a job to do this season to try to get in the mix for promotion. It has been a long road so far and we are still not there.

“As a club, we are certainly going in the right direction off the pitch. We are trying to get the infrastructure right so the club could maintain and sustain football at a higher level.

“We need the supporters to come out in their numbers because that will play a huge part as well. And, of course, we would have to invest in the squad going forward if that is the aim but I think it is a long way off. Let’s try to get the first part done.”

Cherries old boy Kevin Reeves, who is chief scout at Wigan, also played a part in laying the foundations for Swansea’s elevation to the Premier League when he worked under Roberto Martinez at the Liberty Stadium.

Reeves told the Daily Echo: “Wigan did it so there is no reason why any club can’t do it. The owner here had an affinity with the football club and put in a lot of money to enable it to achieve what is has.

“The television revenue is colossal and enables us to compete at this level. If we do it right, we can hopefully stay in the Premier League and keep receiving the vast sums of money that Sky pumps in. To reach the Premier League isn’t easy but, if you do, there is no reason why you can’t sustain it.”