MANAGER Eddie Howe believes switching to a two-pronged strike force has given Cherries “real confidence” in their quest to pull away from the Premier League drop zone.

Howe saw Benik Afobe inspire Cherries to a 2-0 win over Swansea on Saturday – just a week after fellow frontman Joshua King had done likewise against West Ham.

Victory over the Welsh outfit – which came courtesy of an Alfie Mawson own goal and Afobe’s fourth of the season – hoisted Cherries nine points clear of the bottom three.

It also saw them chalk up their first Premier League double as well as back-to-back wins for the first time in 12 months and a first clean sheet since they triumphed 3-0 at Swansea on New Year’s Eve.

Asked what changing to a front two had brought, Howe replied: “It has changed the dynamic slightly but I wouldn’t say it was a huge shift from what we had.

“The different attributes that the striker brings give you a better goal threat. It might impact the team slightly negatively in other areas but that is always the case when you pick certain players ahead of others.

“Certainly, it looks like it has given us real confidence that we can score goals and, to win games, any team needs that belief.

“You might lose the total control or element of control that you want but you are adding a goal threat and maybe a counter-attack threat that possibly you didn’t have before.”

Discussing King and Afobe, Howe added: “It is a nice dynamic. You want everyone contributing to the cause and we have always been a team of partnerships.

“We have always been a team where the player next to you helps complement your game and brings another level out of your performance. It looks like the front two are enjoying that at the moment.”

Mawson diverted Afobe’s 31st-minute shot past Lukasz Fabianski for Cherries’ opener before the striker doubled their lead after being teed up by King in the 72nd minute.

Howe said: “I was delighted for Benik, as I was for Josh last week. To have strikers doing their job and putting the ball in the net is massive for any team. It was a really good finish and a big moment in the game.

“We have taken some really positive steps in the past three games. The draw at Manchester United was a real turning point for us and we have backed it up in the two home games. We knew they would be so important for us especially with the fixtures we have to come.

“Full credit goes to the players because it is one thing knowing the importance of the games and another going out and delivering very good performances. I thought they were very impressive.

“I am very grateful to the players for their attitude and for how they conduct themselves. When results aren’t going your way, it is very easy for the camp to become split and for negativity to creep in.

“That did not happen here and I really do admire all the players and the journeys they have been on in their respective careers and how much they are fighting for the club.”