CHERRIES star Eunan O’Kane is relishing the prospect of testing himself in the Championship and insists he has the ability to handle the step up.

The former Torquay man flourished under the management of Eddie Howe last season as he played an important role in Cherries’ successful League One campaign.

O’Kane, who netted one goal and provided eight assists in 37 third tier appearances, emerged as a consistent performer after forcing his way into Howe’s line-up.

Named in the League Two team of the year while at Torquay in 2011-12, O’Kane made a successful transition in the higher division with Cherries last term.

And the 22-year-old is hopeful he can emulate that effort by showcasing his skills when Cherries take the leap into Championship next season.

Discussing the Championship quest, O’Kane told the Daily Echo: “I think I have proved to myself that I can stand and play football at League One level and, for me personally, it is the next step to go there and challenge myself at that level.

“When the fixture list comes through and we start to prepare, it will be something I will look forward to and, hopefully, I will be in the team which starts the first game.

"I was a bit optimistic when I came here over whether or not I would make the transition, and I have managed it okay so far. There is a little bit of optimism again going into the Championship. I have faith in my own ability and it is something I am going to look forward to and relish the challenge of.”

O’Kane, signed by former boss Paul Groves in a £175,000 deal from Torquay, put pen to paper on a three-year contract with Cherries last summer.

The midfielder, who will face competition for a starting spot from the likes of Harry Arter, Richard Hughes and Shaun MacDonald, believes manager Howe’s second-flight experience will boost Cherries’ prospects.

O’Kane added: “The gaffer has been there and he knows what it takes. A lot of us haven’t played in the Championship so it is helpful that he knows what he is doing, that he has been there and that he knows what he needs to be successful at that level.”