EDDIE Howe believes “exciting times” are on the horizon for Tokelo Rantie and says the striker is likely to get his chance to stake a claim during a hectic spell for Cherries.

Boss Howe has been delighted with the “real improvements” shown by Rantie, the frontman having reaped the rewards of his endeavours for both club and country.

Rantie added to his four-timer in Cherries’ Final Third Development League clash against Peterborough by netting for South Africa in their Africa Cup of Nations win over Congo on Saturday.

The 24-year-old has experienced mixed fortunes with Cherries since arriving in England for the first time following a big-money move from Swedish club Malmo 13 months ago.

He scored three goals in 29 Championship games last season and has been restricted to two League Cup starts and four substitute appearances this time round.

But with the visit of Charlton starting a gruelling schedule of seven matches in 22 days for Cherries and with Yann Kermorgant missing the first three due to suspension, Howe is likely to utilise his squad.

Speaking ahead of Bafana Bafana’s reverse fixture with Congo tonight, Howe told the Daily Echo: “It was great to see TK score for his national team because strikers thrive on goals. He was outstanding in the development squad game and five goals in two matches is an excellent return.

“TK has worked very hard behind the scenes on all aspects of his game and we are seeing real improvements. We have been delighted with his attitude when he hasn’t featured and he is a really good guy to coach. There is a lot of potential to his game and we are pleased with where he is.

“It was always going to be difficult for him to adjust quickly when you consider the change in environment and he has been through a lot in the past year off the pitch.

“He has developed his game and made big strides. He is competing with some very good players for a shirt and, in Yann, Callum, Brett and TK, we have some really strong forward options.

“I have said it is going to be a big season for TK and have seen nothing that will change my mind on that. As with all the other players, I am sure he will get his opportunity to stake a claim in the first team very soon.

“We have a number of games in a short space of time and Yann’s suspension will leave us light in the striking department so the chance will come for other players.

“The only disappointment for TK with his call-up is that it comes at a time when we are doing a lot of work with the players and the team and he flies back so close to the game. From that aspect, it is always difficult when he goes on international duty, especially when you consider the effects of the long flights.

“But he is certainly a player who can make a difference for us and create something out of nothing so, hopefully, there are exciting times just around the corner for him.”