BOSS Eddie Howe believes Cherries have proved they can hold their own with so-called illustrious opponents and will benefit for the experience next season.

Howe’s charges have performed admirably after locking horns with a host of established clubs during their first season in the second flight since 1990.

Their 2-2 draw at Ipswich – continuously a first and second tier club since 1957 – saw Cherries top their previous points tally of 62, set when they finished 12th in 1988-89.

Howe’s men have done the double over Reading, who came down from the Premier League last season, and also beat fellow relegated pair QPR and Wigan.

Cherries have also recorded victories over ex-Premier League clubs Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton, Barnsley, Birmingham, Leeds and Blackburn.

Howe, asked whether he had learned anything he could apply next season, said: “I think it is more a case of the belief that has grown within the group of players.

“That is key when you get promotion and you are at a club like AFC Bournemouth because, sometimes, you can have an inferiority complex going to the big former Premier League teams.

“But I think we have hopefully shed that now and there is a lot of confidence within the players in their own ability and that should be even more so next season and that will hopefully help us develop.”