Barnard is likely to return to Saints next month.
Howe said: "We have real competition for places in the striking department but Lee is still very much part of our squad.
"The difficulty we have is that he is a loan player and we have contracted players.
"That is the dilemma and it is a really difficult one.
"I can only speak very highly of Lee's attitude and commitment to the cause since he has been here and we will re-assess his position in January."