MANAGER Eddie Howe is tipping team player Eunan O’Kane to flourish with Cherries as he aims to help tap into his “undoubted potential”.

Howe is confident Cherries have yet to see the best of O’Kane as the young midfielder continues to establish himself in the first team at Dean Court.

A £175,000 summer signing from Torquay United, O’Kane has scored once and contributed three assists in 16 appearances for the Dorset club.

Having waited for his chance under Howe, the 22-year-old has displayed his credentials since replacing the suspended Harry Arter at Carlisle.

The ex-Everton scholar, who joined Torquay from Coleraine in January 2010, has started the past three games and was a star man against Colchester.

O’Kane is set to retain his place when Cherries visit League One rivals Crewe tomorrow (3pm) after impressing Howe with his talent and work-rate.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “I have been pleased with Eunan.

“We were aware of Eunan before we came in, knowing that he is a very talented lad.

“It was a good move for him from Torquay. It was a good step at that stage of his career when he probably needed that.

“We found it difficult to get him in the team to start with because of the run the team was on.

“But he has come into the team now and more than played his part in the past few games, in perhaps a different role to where we felt we might use him, playing in central midfield in a two next to Shaun MacDonald.

“The defensive side of his game is very good, to go with the technical ability that he has got.

“He is another player who has got undoubted potential to get better going forward. What pleases me most about him is that he has got the right temperament and attitude – he wants to improve and he wants to learn.”

O’Kane’s performances could become all the more important in the coming weeks as MacDonald faces at least two months out with ankle ligament damage. The versatile midfielder has caught the eye of Howe by coupling his creative play with good defensive work in the engine room.

Boss Howe added: “In the past couple of games, Eunan has really impressed us off the ball as well as on it.

“He has been disciplined enough to play in a two, track runners and fill positions out of possession.

“He has done that really well and that would please me more than anything – because he is playing for the team and not just himself.”