CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe believes Jordon Ibe can be a “real difference-maker” and is backing the winger to fulfil his rich potential.

In a candid interview with the Daily Echo this week, Ibe admitted his first season at Vitality Stadium had been “very poor” and said it was time to “buck up my ideas”.

Signed for a reported £15million fee in July 2016, Ibe, who could feature when Cherries visit West Brom today, endured a difficult debut campaign with the club.

Having been selected for the first 11 games in the Premier League – and being substituted in all of them – the 21-year-old was restricted to a peripheral role.

He started only two further matches – against Manchester City in February and at Liverpool in April – and appeared 12 times from the bench.

Responding to Ibe’s self-assessment of his inaugural season with Cherries, manager Howe told the Daily Echo: “He has spoken how he feels but, from my perspective, he is a young player with so much potential.

“He really could be a real difference-maker at this level. I think it’s up to us as coaches to support him, to help him and guide him through these early stages of his career so he reaches his full potential in the future.

“My wish for him this season is that he follows through with the potential he has shown and delivers on the biggest stage.

“There is no doubting his ability, that’s for sure, and the hard work he has put in behind the scenes.

“We have seen a maturity from him, that he has learned from previous experiences and, hopefully, that will show in his games.”

The Londoner has enjoyed a positive run of form during pre-season, scoring in a 2-1 win against Portuguese outfit Estoril and also finding the net in the 1-0 victory at Queens Park Rangers.

And Howe is hoping Ibe can build on those positives heading into the Premier League season.

“I think the beauty of this pre-season compared to last is we had a lot of young players last pre-season,” he said.

“There is always that bedding-in period. I think they know it now, they knew what to expect coming back in pre-season and they knew how tough it would be. Because of that, I think they prepared themselves better and, ultimately, they have performed better.”

Howe added: “I think you can forget. You can just judge the player and the transfer fee. I have said that before and I think that’s very unfair sometimes.

“We are all at different stages of our careers and we all have different things to improve. Jordon needs a little bit of time and a little bit of patience.

“But I think, if we can invest that in him, what a player we will have in the future.”