BOSS Eddie Howe insisted Jermain Defoe still had a “big future” at Cherries despite the striker being the subject of a “cheeky” approach from Sunderland.

Black Cats owner Stewart Donald revealed he had attempted to bring the England international back to the Stadium of Light.

Speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle, he said: “I asked in the summer if we could and the answer came that we couldn’t.

"We might ask again but it was a pretty strong no. It was a cheeky request, though!

"I was wondering if they might contribute to his wages."

With Donald stating Sunderland could once again enquire about Defoe’s availability, Howe confirmed he would not be interested in letting the former Tottenham man depart Vitality Stadium.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Manchester United (12.30pm), the Cherries boss told the Daily Echo: “Jermain has got a big future here.

“He’s a very important player for a host of different reasons.

“His experience and wisdom he passes on to the players – he has always got a really good, useful thing to say in any situation.

“On the training ground he is really beneficial for everybody - for me and for the young strikers we have in imparting his knowledge on the pitch.

“We have seen recently in training he has looked really sharp and I have been really pleased with his general performances in training. He is a huge part of what we do.”

Defoe, who was also linked with a move to Scottish giants Rangers in the summer, joined Cherries on a free transfer from Sunderland in the summer of 2017.

The 36-year-old has been limited to just 14 minutes of game time in the Premier League this season.

He has made substitute appearances against Cardiff, Burnley and Fulham and is yet to get off the mark for the campaign.

Formerly of Portsmouth and West Ham, Defoe registered an assist for Junior Stanislas’s goal during Tuesday’s 2-1 Carabao Cup fourth round victory over Norwich.

An ankle injury to Joshua King means Defoe could feature when Cherries take on the Red Devils.

Despite sitting three points above the 20-time English champions in sixth, Howe insisted his players would need to find an extra gear to topple Jose Mourinho’s men.

“I think whenever you play Manchester United and you are Bournemouth, Manchester United are the favourites for the game,” he added.

“I have no problem with that. The players need to know to get anything out of this game we need to really excel and play perhaps above what we have done at any time this season.

“I have been impressed with Manchester United. They have dealt with the instability of the start they had and now seem to be growing again.

“Slowly but surely I think they are improving all the time. I have no doubt when you look at the league table at the end of the season they are going to be where they have always been – very near the top fighting for honours.”