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Howe: O'Kane has ROI future

Eddie Howe is backing Bournemouth midfielder Eunan O'Kane to force his way into the Republic of Ireland squad.

The former Torquay man has been one of the Cherries' outstanding performers this season and was put on stand-by for his national side's friendlies with Latvia and Poland in November.

But despite having been left out of the squad for their latest friendly against Serbia this Wednesday, Howe says the 23-year-old has time on his side as he looks to push for international recognition.

"Eunan has been excellent for us," Howe told the Daily Echo. "He really has developed and has been a key figure for us this season.

"He is very good technically and tactically and makes such good decisions for a young guy. He is a very brave player so we are really pleased to have him with us."

"He is still a really good age and young enough, I believe, to have a big impact on the international stage. But it is very much out of his hands and all he can control is how he performs for us."

When asked whether he felt O'Kane was close to making the breakthrough into Martin O'Neill's squad, the former Burnley boss added: "What they decide to do, they decide to do. If he carries on playing like he has and continues to improve like he has then, yes, without a doubt."