MIDFIELDER Eunan O’Kane believes Cherries’ late-season charge has provided boss Eddie Howe with added “ammunition” should he look to strengthen his squad this summer.

Some 14 points off the play-offs at the end of February, Cherries are now in the thick of the race for the top six heading into the final four games of the season.

And even if his team do miss out on promotion to the Premier League, O’Kane, 23, insists Howe’s bargaining power with prospective new faces will be greatly increased.

He told the Daily Echo: “If we make the play-offs we’ll be over the moon but even if we don’t, we will have far-exceeded our expectations at the start of the season.

“That can only be a positive influence on us going forward next year. It becomes a lot easier to attract players if you have just missed out on the play-offs rather than if you have just stayed up by the skin of your teeth.

“Ultimately we want to keep improving as a squad and if the manager feels he needs to strengthen, it gives him a little bit more ammunition to do that.”

In addition to their play-off ambitions, Cherries are hoping to beat the club record for the highest finish in the second flight – 12th under Harry Redknapp in 1988-89.

However, talk of surpassing that mark has taken a back seat since Howe’s men surged into the play-off reckoning.

O’Kane continued: “I think that is credit to the lads, the manager and the staff. We’re never really content with where we are.

“At the start of the season the goal was to stay in the league and we achieved that, and then it became about striving to beat the highest-ever finish.

"We’ve gone on to pick up an awful lot of points and the goal for the season has slightly altered and I think that’s a measure of where we are as a club.

“We always want to be better and let’s hope we can achieve the goal we have set now.”