O’Kane has turned in a series of eye-catching displays this season, his form seeing him put on stand-by for the first Republic of Ireland squad named by Martin O’Neill.
And although he was not called up for friendlies against Latvia and Poland in November, the midfielder has continued to stake his claim as his stock has risen.
O’Kane, who has been revelling in a slightly deeper midfield role, registered his first goal in the Championship during Cherries’ Boxing Day win over Yeovil.
The 23-year-old, capped by the Republic at under-21 level, will |be hoping to be in O’Neill’s plans when a squad is announced for a friendly against Serbia in Dublin in March.
Howe, asked by the Daily Echo whether he felt O’Kane was knocking on the door internationally, replied: “I don’t know what level of player he is competing against. All I can say is I have been delighted with him this season, just as I was last season.
“There were times in training towards the end of last season when we felt Eunan had really grown in his performance levels and he hit such high standards that he even surprised us at times.
“I think he is getting back to those levels now and he has been outstanding in our past few games. His all-round level of play has been very good.
“He is really developing as a footballer and, if there are better than him out there, they would have to be good players to stop him getting in the squad.”
O’Kane is expected to start when Cherries visit Wigan tomorrow (3pm), prior to the FA Cup third round clash against Burton on Tuesday.