EDDIE Howe backed the ability of academy graduate Jack Simpson and admitted: “He probably feels he needs regular football.”

The Weymouth-raised centre-half has made just six first-team appearances for Cherries in all competitions this season, the most recent coming against Luton in the FA Cup third round.

He could feature in the next stage of the competition at home to Arsenal on Monday (8pm), while it is understood a number of Championship clubs, including Middlesbrough, Derby and Stoke are interested in taking him on loan.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “He is a player of huge potential and promise but is coming to an age where he probably feels he needs regular football. It’s obviously got to be right for us and for him.

“He’s got that rare composure on the ball. I remember one of the early performances he gave at Chelsea, as good a performance I’ve seen with the ball from a centre-half in a long, long time.

“He’s got that ability to find passes under pressure. He seems to rise to the occasion, which is a great quality to have mentally.

“Physically he’s good. He is six foot three, he can head the ball and is athletic. He does have everything – the only thing missing for Jack is the experience that a lot of the other players have.

“I back him to get there whether that’s with us, in terms in getting in our team, or maybe looking out on loan.”

Simpson’s three Premier League appearances this season have equated to just 167 minutes of football.

Quizzed on how important it was for the defender to get game time, manager Howe replied: “I think Jack’s been really unlucky actually.

“He’s been in a difficult situation where we have needed him with the injuries we suffered in pre-season.

“We were possibly planning and looking to get him out on loan, to get him some games we feel, at this stage of the career, he needed.

“We couldn’t do that. It’s been frustrating for Jack because I think he’s at that stage where we’d love to get him games – we’d love to get him that experience he needs – the feeling of playing every week.

“But as you’ve seen this season, he’s come on and he’s impacted.

“The last league game against Arsenal he played left-back and without the performance from him in that position we might not have got a point – that could be a crucial point at the end of the season.”