The 23-year-old Australian left-back was out for two months after injuring his hip in the Socceroos' World Cup play-off against Syria in October.

Howe had said in December that the ex-Liverpool man would get a chance to press his first-team claims upon his return to fitness with a view to his 2018 World Cup hopes with Australia but opportunities have been limited.

He returned to first-team action in the FA Cup earlier this month, playing the first half of Bournemouth's come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Wigan, where they trailed 2-0 at the break.

Smith wasn't part of the Cherries' matchday squad for the replay overnight as Wigan prevailed 3-0, but has played for the club's reserves and under-21's sides recently.

The situation has led to speculation about Smith chasing a loan move away from Bournemouth. Howe said the Australian was content for now.

“That feeling of playing games and being back 100 per cent fit and free from injury is only truly tested in games," Smith told the Daily Echo.

“When you get that feeling and feel good again, it gives you a lift, so he has been in a good place.”

The Penrith talent has only made three appearances for Bournemouth this term, exclusively in cup competitions with the Cherries now eliminated from both.

Smith and his partner announced earlier this month they are expecting their first child later this year.