EDDIE Howe believes role model Stephen Purches has a vital part to play in setting the standard for Cherries’ next generation.

Manager Howe revealed he wanted Purches to continue his long association with the club after he was today handed a testimonial year.

Recognising his 10 seasons with the Dean Court outfit, the 32-year-old received the accolade after making more than 300 appearances for Cherries.

Purches starred in Cherries’ 2003 play-off triumph before joining Leyton Orient in 2007.

Re-signed by ex-team-mate Howe following three seasons with Orient, the Essex-born utility man is contracted to the club until summer 2014.

And boss Howe believes Purches, who is currently recovering from a broken leg, is a key figure in his squad.

“I remember seeing him in his first few training sessions – a very good player,” Howe told the Daily Echo.

“More importantly than that, he is a very good professional, absolutely dedicated.

“He has given this club fantastic service down the years and is very much a Bournemouth man. Even though he left and came back, he is Bournemouth through and through.

“He certainly now has a big role to play in terms of developing the younger players and passing on his experience to other players because you can’t underestimate that importance of setting the right example.

“He is someone that the younger professionals definitely look up to and follow and he has also coached at varying levels with our centre of excellence, so I think that is a natural progression for him. Hopefully, he can still have a long association with this football club.

“I am delighted he has been given a testimonial because I think it is fitting reward for someone who has always acted in the best interests of the club.”