EDDIE Howe believes Cherries have the potential to be “a force to be reckoned with” in the second half of the season – providing they can keep progressing.

Boss Howe says he has been encouraged by recent performances as Cherries have continued to find their feet following promotion to the Championship.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think we have seen a gradual improvement in the team throughout the season, not just in results, but in level of performance. When you looked at our early games, we had some good results by being a little backs-to-the-wall at times.

“We have been more progressive and attack-minded in the latter stages of the first half of the season and had some consistent performances, which is the pleasing thing.

“I think we have been very good in the past six or seven games and been the dominant team in most. They are good signs and if we could continue that progression and improvement, then we could be a real force to be reckoned with.”

Howe knows Cherries’ credentials will face a stern test when they meet Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday (3pm). The Latics have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes since Uwe Rosler replaced Owen Coyle as manager last month.

“They have been excellent and their recent run of results have been very impressive,” said Howe. “Uwe is very organised and has certainly motivated the squad. They look like they are an improved outfit.

“They have kept together the majority of the FA Cup-winning team and have one of the strongest squads in the league. They are now getting the results to match so it will definitely be a difficult test for us.

“Our recent form has been good and we had a really impressive performance against Brighton. But for the late goal, it would have been a great day.

“We will be looking to repeat the level of performance we displayed over the festive period because we are in good form.”