PROMISING striker Sam Surridge insisted he had been eager to stay and compete for his Cherries first-team debut - despite a potential loan move to Sunderland.

The 20-year-old impressed during a prolific spell at League Two Oldham before he was recalled to Vitality Stadium last month.

A raft of interest followed from League One sides, including Bradford, Oxford and the Black Cats.

However, boss Eddie Howe believed it was best for the talented marksman to stay at the Dorset club for the rest of the season.

Surridge told the Daily Echo: "We had a couple of chats and he (Howe) said he wanted me to stay and be around the first team to try and fight for a place.

"I keep working every day under him and he said he will improve me as a player, which I have done since I came back.

"It is nice getting recognition and being wanted by other clubs.

"With the Sunderland situation, I was ready to go until Thursday (deadline day) but we did not know if I was going to be allowed out.

"It was one of those things I put at the back of my mind. If it happened, it happened but the gaffer wanted me to stay and I wanted to stay. I wanted to keep pushing myself and see what I could do.

"I am happy to be working with top-quality Premier League players every day in training and the coaches are improving me."

He added: "The main thing I wanted when I came back was to stay at Bournemouth and prove myself. I have trained well and the gaffer wanted to keep me.

"If I ended up out on loan it would have been great but it was even better to stay here for the rest of the season."

The former Ferndown Upper pupil fired 12 goals in 20 appearances for the Latics, with his final goal coming from the penalty spot in a memorable FA Cup third-round upset at Fulham.

On Saturday, Surridge was an unused substitute in Cherries' 3-0 defeat at Liverpool.

He has now been named in the matchday squad on three occasions, with previous watching briefs coming in the League Cup tie against Preston in 2015 and the final game of the 2016-17 Premier League season at Leicester.

The Cherries academy graduate believes he is getting "closer and closer" to a senior appearance.

"I know the manager wants me there (in the squad) because he knows, if I am needed, I can make a difference," said Surridge.

"I think it is a matter of time and I just need to keep working hard every day in training.

"It would be massive for me and another bench mark of where I want to be. That is what I want to do and after I have made my debut I will want more.

"You can't just settle for one appearance. I want to keep moving forward."