EDDIE Howe admitted it would be "almost impossible" for Cherries to delve into football's bargain basement now they were a Premier League club.

Charlie Daniels, Steve Cook and Simon Francis are the only players to have featured more than 100 times for Cherries in the top flight – the trio of defenders having cost the club a combined £370,000 in transfer fees during Lee Bradbury's reign.

Only Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake, who were brought in for a combined £30million last summer, have played more minutes in the Premier League this season.

And boss Howe believes the days of attaining the value for money achieved in reeling in Daniels, Cook and Francis are all but gone.

Put to him that it would be difficult for Cherries to make that type of signing again due to the club's top-tier status, Howe told the Daily Echo: "I hate to use the word 'impossible' but yes, it is almost impossible.

"I've always said we have looked at the lower leagues. It has been one of our staple areas to recruit players.

"But as soon as you are a Premier League club, a price which may be £1million to someone else becomes £3m, £4m, £5m, £6m or £7m and, before you know it, it runs into double figures.

"The days of finding a player for that kind of value are very rare."

There are a number of other bargain signings who have featured regularly in Howe's matchday squads this season.

Adam Smith, just six games short of a century of top-tier appearances for Cherries but currently sidelined, cost £250,000 when he moved from Tottenham four years ago.

Dan Gosling, another freebie, is on course to hit his ton in the early stages of the next campaign, while striker Joshua King, who has scored 28 goals in 96 Premier League appearances, still looks a steal at £1m.

King, Smith and Gosling are all in Cherries' top 10 for minutes played in the league this season. The other members of the top 10 are big-money recruits Jordon Ibe and Lewis Cook.

Howe rates Daniels as one of the club's best bargains of recent times, the full-back having moved from Leyton Orient for the princely sum of £175,000 six years ago.

The boss added: "It was a great deal by whoever put that together!

"There have been a number who have been great value for money down the years and Charlie is right at the top of that list.

"He has been very consistent. He is a motivated player who wants to find areas of his game to improve so he can move on to another level.

"He leads the way on the training pitch. He is such a consistent trainer every day. He is at his very highest level and that's why he has been able to transfer that into games."