EDDIE Howe admitted he had “reluctantly” sanctioned Benik Afobe’s loan switch to Wolves and said the frontman had moved to earn an opportunity he did not see coming at Cherries.

Afobe joined the Championship leaders in the dying embers of the January transfer window, linking up with a club he scored 23 goals for in the calendar year leading up to January 2016.

The former Arsenal youngster is without a goal in his past 19 appearances in the Premier League, six of which have been starts.

And Cherries boss Howe hopes a temporary switch to Molineux will give the DR Congo international a boost.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Stoke City (3pm), Howe told the Daily Echo: “I always want my players to go and do well. I respect Benik a lot.

“Letting him go was a decision I didn’t really want to make but the player felt he needed football so it was something I reluctantly agreed to.

“He was keen to play and I think part of that was that he was keen to score and do well. You always want players to want to achieve individually, that has to be there. Sometimes you have to make them understand their opportunity will come and they have to be patient and develop behind the scenes. Sometimes they have to wait behind players performing very well ahead of them.

“But sometimes it’s very difficult to convince players of that if they don’t see an opportunity coming and I think Benik was in that situation.”

Lewis Grabban was another loan departure for Cherries on deadline day, the 30-year-old frontman linking up with Championship promotion hopefuls Aston Villa.

Asked if he expected Grabban to seek a permanent move to a new club in the summer, Howe said: “I think that’s a possibility but never say never. I would never shut the door on anybody.

“Let’s see how he does at Aston Villa. It’s a great club and a great opportunity for him to achieve something historic, so we wish him well.

“I’d leave the door open for anybody but especially a player like Grabbs given how well he has done for me historically.”

Cherries face Stoke on the back of a famous 3-0 win at Chelsea but recently-appointed Potters boss Paul Lambert does not believe Wednesday’s result will have an effect on the fixture at Vitality Stadium.

Lambert told The Sentinel: “I don’t think the result in midweek will have any bearing on this weekend.

“We are not Chelsea, first and foremost, and will play differently. Did anybody see that result coming? Probably not, apart from Eddie himself. He would have thought: ‘We’ve got a chance to win'.

“But we will play differently and will cause Bournemouth problems in our own way. We will stick to our belief in what we are trying to do. I won’t change that – and we’ll go to try to win.”