EDDIE Howe insists Gavin Kilkenny has a “very good chance of being involved this season” if he can continue the form shown during his recent rise.

The Irish midfielder stole the show during Saturday’s 3-0 friendly success against Lyon, finding the net as well as being named man-of-the-match.

And with both David Brooks and Junior Stanislas ruled out through injury, Cherries are stretched for options on the wing ahead of this weekend’s Premier League opener against Sheffield United.

Asked if Kilkenny could soon be in contention to make his competitive debut, Howe told the Daily Echo: “He’s going to be there or thereabouts.

“We don’t have a big squad so he’s going to be close.

“I can’t make any promises to him now, but what I can say is that if he continues along the same way that he’s played in pre-season, then he’ll have a very good chance of being involved this season.”

Kilkenny, who also started in pre-season games against Girona and Brentford, was one of seven academy graduates to finish the match against Lyon.

And Howe admits the summer schedule offers him a good chance to blood some youngsters.

Discussing Kilkenny’s display against Lyon, Howe said: “I think to give players opportunities is one of the highlights of my job.

“You see a young player who has got the potential to go on the biggest stage and do well, there’s no betting feeling for him.

“He’ll be really proud I’m sure of what he did on Saturday. He’s carried on really from his form all throughout pre-season, where he’s done very, very well technically.

“He’s done some excellent things with the ball, showed a real game intelligence and took his goal really well.”

Having spent last season competing in Shaun Cooper’s under-21s, Kilkenny played his part in the young side’s Central League Cup triumph over Notts County.

And he says the amount of chances he was given with the first team this summer was a little surprising.

Asked if he anticipated to play so much in the past few weeks, Kilkenny said: “Probably not.

“When I came back (from the summer break), I didn’t expect it but obviously that’s what you hope to do and you have that aim, to go as high as you can.

“He (Howe) speaks to me at training every day. Obviously the manager is great.

“I just listen to him every day and you can only improve by listening to the gaffer.”