EDDIE Howe revealed he had always expected striker Lewis Grabban to leave Dean Court this summer after the striker departed for Norwich City.

A £300,000 signing from Rotherham in summer 2012, Cherries’ top scorer in 2013/14 signed a three-and-a-half-year deal in January which contained a release exit clause - believed to be £3million.

The Dean Court side agreed a fee with Cardiff three weeks ago but Norwich then swooped to secure the services of the frontman for Cherries’ highest-ever selling fee.

Howe told the Cherries website: "We've been aware that there has been a lot of interest in Grabbs and with the clause in his contract we were aware that we were going to lose him at some point this summer.

"It is a huge amount of money, especially when you take into account the investment that was made in Grabbs just two years ago.

"It is a club record and now it's up to us to try and make sure the team continues to move forward.

"He goes with our best wishes for the service he has given us in the two years he has been here."

Howe admitted Cherries faced a “challenge” to compete in the transfer market against the Championship’s more wealthy clubs, but insisted he remained confident of success.

He said: "Clubs coming down from the Premier League and the bigger clubs in the Championship can pay their players a lot more than we can, and when they can treble or quadruple their money elsewhere it is hard for us to compete; but that's the challenge facing us going forward.

"I think what we have to do is make sure that we continue to work very smart, develop our players as best we can and make sure we are as astute as we can be in the transfer market.

"They're things that you have to do whether you are in League Two, League One, the Championship or the Premier League and I think you can be successful wherever you are if your work is good enough."