MANAGER Eddie Howe yesterday stepped up his player |pursuit after admitting his squad needs strengthening if Cherries are to challenge next season.

Howe was hoping to hold talks with the club’s out-of-contract players in a bid to secure their services, having already offered fresh terms to Warren Cummings, Ryan Garry, Jeff Goulding, Joe Partington, Josh McQuoid and Ryan Pryce.

The Cherries boss revealed that only Pryce has, so far, indicated his willingness to remain at Dean Court.

But he is optimistic of keeping the other players, all of whom he sees as important if Cherries are to boast a good enough squad to compete at the top of League Two next term.

“I want to keep them all and I’m hopeful that we can,” he said.

“A lot will depend on whether they have offers from elsewhere and how they view the current situation at the football club.

“I’m sure they’ll make calculated decisions on what’s best for them.”

Howe is keen to bolster his thin squad, which could suffer the big blow of losing star midfielder Danny Hollands, who has still yet to be paid his May wages, which were due on Friday, despite serving the club with a 14-day notice over the outstanding salary.

“I think we need some additions – not many – but I think we need three, maybe four additions to have a really, really good chance next season,” admitted Howe.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a good squad, but it’s a little bit imbalanced and we need to improve in certain areas.

“The players did very well at the end of last season but we’ve lost two players from that squad (Joel Ward and Rhoys Wiggins) and it’s a very tight league.”

Howe’s task is not helped by the fact he is operating under a rolling transfer embargo.

This means he is unable to sign new players, while it also makes his decisions on retaining current Cherries players more difficult, as he remains unsure when the embargo will be lifted.

But this has not stopped the young manager from targeting new talent and his tireless search has yielded some success, with Barry Corr set to link-up with Cherries for pre-season.

The 6ft 3ins frontman, who scored twice for Swindon at Dean Court in December 2007, is a free agent.

“He’s had shoulder problems and I think he’s had that sorted out now so we’re due to have a look at him in pre-season and assess how fit he is,” explained Howe.

“He’s a mobile targetman which is very, very rare. When he’s fit and playing he’ll be better than this level.”

  • Cherries youngster Josh Carmichael has been selected for a Scotland under-15s training camp in Glasgow this week.

The Poole Grammar School pupil is the only player from an English club in the squad of 24.