CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe has challenged his strikers to plug the gap left by Lewis Grabban after the 22-goal hitman departed for Norwich City.

The Dean Court boss believes the club’s existing forwards should see Grabban’s exit as an ideal opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the 2014-15 starting line-up.

Transfer window recruit Yann Kermorgant gave a string of impressive performances at the end of last season, keeping club record signing Tokelo Rantie and Brett Pitman on the fringes.

However, Howe says every player in the current squad has a role to play and insists Cherries can emerge a better side in 2014-15, despite losing one of their star performers.

“Sometimes these things can make you stronger and that’s certainly how we are looking at it,” said Howe.

“Unless you are Real Madrid or Barcelona, there is always a fear you are going to lose your best players and we’ve always historically had this issue.

“However, we have always managed to find replacements, or brought players from within who have come in and done a very good job.

“Now the door opens for the likes of Tokelo Rantie, Brett Pitman and Josh McQuoid who are already here and, of course, we have the transfer market as well.

“From our perspective we are very positive, we feel we've got a really good squad and we feel if we can make some quality additions we can be stronger than we were last year.”

Former Newcastle and Everton midfielder Dan Gosling is Howe’s only summer signing to date, but the manager says he is more than content to bide his time.

And Howe says that patience will be crucial in a market that is “quite quiet”.

“We’ve got irons in the fire,” he said. “We have targets in mind and we are working hard to try and secure those targets.

“It may well be that we have to be patient this summer, just due to the players we have identified and their situations, and the market itself is quite quiet.

“We are quite prepared to go into pre-season being patient and, hopefully, get the additions we want before the season kicks off.”