EDDIE Howe believes Alex Dobre made a “wise decision” to join Wigan Athletic on loan, adding: “If he can force his way into a Championship team, I think that will be a very good sign that he’s getting closer to the Premier League.”

The Romanian winger, 21, had been part of Howe’s first-team squad at Cherries this season and made his senior debut off the bench during January’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Luton Town.

He has also been part of a matchday squad for five other fixtures this season, including Premier League trips to Chelsea and West Ham United, where he was an unused substitute.

Alongside training with the first team, Dobre has excelled during his outings with Cherries under-21s this term, scoring regularly in the Premier League Cup, Central League Cup and Hampshire Senior Cup.

Having made a last-ditch switch to the Latics on deadline day last month on a deal until the end of the season, Dobre is yet to feature for his new club. But he will hope to get a chance in their home clash with Millwall on Saturday, as Paul Cook’s side look to haul themselves out of the Championship relegation zone.

Dobre has previously spent time on loan at Yeovil Town, Rochdale and Bury, but featuring in the second tier with Wigan would be another important milestone for the Bucharest-born ace.

“This time last year I think he went to Yeovil (in League Two) and that was a learning curve for him at such a difficult level,” Howe told the Daily Echo.

“But I think he took a lot from that loan. If he can force his way into a Championship team, I think that will be a very good sign that he’s getting closer to the Premier League.”

Asked how much Dobre has developed since the start of the season, Howe added: “He’s improved, no doubt about that. He’s got a very unique ability, Alex.

“He’s got supreme confidence, he backs himself. He’s got the ability to beat players with the ball, quick.

“I think he needs to improve tactically, but I think in part the loan will do him good in that respect, the experience that will bring.

“But with players hopefully coming back to fitness for us, Junior (Stanislas), Josh King, we felt that a loan spell would do him good.”

Although Dobre is yet to even make the bench for Wigan in the three fixtures since his arrival, Howe believes the Romanian has what it takes to make an impact.

The Cherries boss said: “We gave him the option of going on loan in the summer.

“He declined it to stay and fight for his place, which we totally backed as well. But we gave him the same option again in the January window and he’s decided to take it.

“I think it was probably a wise decision because there’s only so long you can train. He’s played a lot of development games. There’s only so long you can do that process without feeling a little bit stagnant within yourself.

“So he’s going to go and try and get games and force his way into Wigan’s team, which will be a tough challenge for him, but something he can do with the ability that he has.”