EDDIE Howe admitted Cherries youngster Sam Surridge could be on the verge of a Premier League debut.

Howe said the 20-year-old striker was "very close" to breaking into the side following an impressive loan spell at League Two Oldham, where he bagged 12 goals in 20 appearances.

A plethora of League One sides had reportedly been interested in a loan move for the former Ferndown Upper pupil after he had been recalled by Cherries last month.

Oxford boss Karl Robinson and Bradford manager David Hopkin declared publicly their admiration, while Sunderland and Plymouth were also linked.

But Howe believes Surridge and Cherries will benefit from the former Bournemouth Sports ace remaining at Vitality Stadium.

The boss told the Daily Echo: "We had a lot of interest in Sam which was a testament to how well he did at Oldham.

"A host of clubs at varying levels would have taken him, which is a great confidence boost for him. "But we felt it was right that we did what was best for us and Sam in the sense of keeping him here, keeping him around the team and developing him behind the scenes in training, with the potential of using him in the team.

"That would be a great moment for him. Let's see what the season brings in that respect but he is certainly getting very close.

"He is a very level-headed lad and a really down-to-earth guy. He is not a minute's problem and is very motivated, which is the big thing with Sam. You can see his motivation by how he trains.

"He wants to be at a very high level every day and if he carries on with that attitude, his career will only go one way."

Surridge travelled for Cherries' 2-0 defeat at Cardiff on Saturday but was not in the matchday squad.

Asked if the academy graduate could challenge the more established strikers at the club, Howe said: "Absolutely. He has the talent and desire to score goals, which is refreshing to see.

"Even in training, he is scoring goals and showing what he can do. His overall game has improved from the loan, so we are very pleased with where he is at."

Eleven-goal Callum Wilson could be out for another three weeks after undergoing a minor knee operation. And Howe said injuries had always been a factor in decisions over loaning out players.

"You have to look at your squad and see what you have available and then make the right decision based on that," said Howe.

"But for any player, if they don't go out on loan and stay with us, it is only good for their development because we believe in the work we do.

"Even without the games, we can make Sam better and make him more ready for the Premier League."