EDDIE Howe has urged Cherries' youngsters to prove to him that they deserve a chance in the Premier League.

The Dorset club's fledglings – watched over by Carl Fletcher – will kick-off their Premier League Cup campaign against Norwich City at Vitality Stadium tomorrow (7pm).

Qualification last month represented something of a coup for the category three Cherries, who have been thrust into a competition in which category one and two clubs compete.

Fletcher's troops are guaranteed at least six games having been placed with the Canaries, Wolves and Bury in Group C, a welcome boost with fixtures relatively sporadic in the Central League.

And boss Howe is hopeful that locking horns with high-quality opposition will give the club's youngsters the stern test they need to develop.

Howe told the Daily Echo: "The unfortunate thing for us is that due to our academy status, we miss out on some of the bridging which other clubs get, opportunities to give young players a higher level of football – more quality opposition and better games.

"We miss out on that and I think that's been really difficult for us.

"But this is a really good chance for a lot of the young guns to put themselves up against better players and better teams and to try to say to me that they are good enough to be involved in the Premier League.

"It's a considerable jump from the standard that most of them are playing but I'm really looking forward to seeing them play and I think they will be great games for us.

"The youngsters are going to get guaranteed games, in good stadiums, against good players.

"No disrespect to the teams we do play and have historically played, but that's a long way from the Premier League games.

"That's why I think it's so good that we get a taste of it and, hopefully, as things progress at the football club, this could become a regular occurrence for us."

Although the Premier League Cup is primarily an under-23 competition, teams are permitted to use three overage outfield players and an overage goalkeeper.

Howe revealed on Saturday that Callum Wilson would make his long-awaited return from injury in the fixture and other first-team players could also feasibly take part.

And the manager welcomes the option of further match minutes for his squad.

He added: "We have a couple of injuries at the moment so I would have to pick and choose wisely the games I think certain players could play.

"But I don't see that being a bad thing for us, certainly for the guys who need it."

Won last season by Swansea City, the Premier League Cup is played in a Champions League-style format with 32 clubs in the group stage.

The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout rounds, which will be contested as one-off ties.

If knockout ties are level after 90 minutes, they will go to extra-time and then penalties if necessary.