BOSS Eddie Howe expressed his desire to keep Wes Thomas at Dean Court but knows the final decision could rest in the hands of the unsettled striker.

Thomas made his first appearance for Cherries for more than two months when he came off the bench during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Swindon.

The 25-year-old, who was booked after coming on as a 74th-minute replacement for Brett Pitman, returned to the club a fortnight ago following the expiry of a loan spell at Blackpool.

The Tangerines had been expected to try to sign him permanently before manager Michael Appleton jumped ship to join Championship rivals Blackburn on Friday.

And although several other clubs are understood to be monitoring the situation, Cherries have received no bids for Thomas who resumed training with Howe’s squad last week.

Thomas, who made one previous substitute appearance under Howe at Doncaster in November, fell out of favour during former boss Paul Groves’s tenure.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Howe said: “We would love Wes to commit his future to us. We rate him very much as a footballer but he has played in the Championship, done well and scored goals. I would certainly welcome him to stay with us but Wes has to want to be here. I think there are a lot of Championship clubs looking at him so we will have to wait and see.”

Thomas, who declined an invitation to speak to the Daily Echo, netted 10 goals in his first 20 games for Cherries but has registered just one in his past 24 appearances.