MANAGER Eddie Howe has offered Cherries supporters an exciting glimpse into the future by insisting: Brett Pitman is even better this time round.

The mercurial striker is today set to make his first appearance at Dean Court since returning to the Dorset club from Bristol City last month.

Signed on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in January, Pitman got off the mark by scoring the equaliser in the recent 2-2 draw at Bury.

The Cherries faithful will be hoping the homegrown frontman will be able to replicate the form which saw him regularly star during his first spell.

Pitman, 24, proved an integral part of Howe’s League Two promotion-winning team by firing 26 goals during that season.

Howe is hoping for more of the same this term as Cherries bid to continue their push for honours in League One.

And he believes Pitman is now an improved all-round player following his time in the Championship.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “Without a doubt, all aspects of his game have improved.

“I think he is a more intelligent player now and he makes better decisions with the ball.

“His finishing is still the same – he is an excellent finisher of all types of different goals.

“I think we have got a better Brett Pitman this time round and, hopefully, he can continue to score the goals he did in his first spell.”

Pitman often divided opinion among supporters after emerging from the club’s youth ranks to establish himself in the senior set-up.

However, former England star David James thinks Howe and Cherries will provide the perfect platform for Pitman to fulfil his potential.

Cherries keeper James, who played alongside Pitman at Ashton Gate, says his team-mate’s finishing will boost Cherries’ promotion chances.

James told the Echo: “His finishing is annoyingly good.

“There is a balance to the side which is good at the moment and I think Brett is enhancing that. As much as he scored in his first game, Brett’s play on the field as opposed to his goalscoring ratio at the moment is beneficial towards the side.”

Pitman and Lewis Grabban have formed a promising partnership in recent weeks and Howe could stick with that strike pairing for today’s visit of Colchester United to Dean Court (3pm).