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David Brooks Returns To Wales Squad Along With Rookie Joe Low For Euro Qualifiers

By Graham Thomas

David Brooks has returned to the Wales squad, 19 months after being given a cancer diagnosis and only 10 days after making his first Premier League start since his return to action.

The Bournemouth fielder has been included in manager Rob Page’s squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey.

Nottingham Forest wing-back Neco Williams has also been included, despite suffering a broken jaw in April.

But Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer has been left out after his collapse and period in hospital following Sunday’s Championship playoff final at Wembley.

Ben Davies and Brennan Johnson have returned to the squad after missing the opening two qualifiers against Croatia and Latvia through injury.

And there is also a call-up for the first time for uncapped 21-year-old Bristol City defender Joe Low, who played 18 times on loan for Walsall last season in League Two.

If Brooks plays in either match, it will be the final step in a remarkable recovery by a player who last played for Wales at the 2021 European Championships finals in June of that year in a 4-0 defeat to Denmark.

Four months after that game, the 25-year-old was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Warrington-born player underwent lengthy chemotherapy treatment, but made a full recovery and returned for the Cherries after 17 months out when he came on as a substitute against Aston Villa in March.

After four appearances off the bench, he made his first start of the season for his club against Manchester United on May 20 – 18 months since his previous start and 598 days since his last start in the Premier League.

In an interview with his club’s website after his return for Bournemouth, Brooks said: “Just trying to get fit and play as many games as possible is the aim now.

“I think it’s probably mellowed me a little bit. You realise that football has been my life for 24 years before I got diagnosed and it all meant nothing in a brief moment.”

After Brooks’ first start against United his manager Gary O’Neil said: “It’s obviously quite new for him but yes, still a part of the journey to go for Brooksy.

“I think the summer will be very important for him. Pre-season, report back in July or end of June, whenever it is, and it’s a level playing field then.

“I think the situation with us being in a relegation battle, and Brooksy being out for so long, it was very difficult from my point of view to give him enough time to see whether he’s ready.

“Whereas he can come back in pre-season, on a level playing field.

“Hopefully, Brooksy can impact the group and be ready to impact football matches every week.”

Morgan Fox, Luke Harris and Liam Cullen are the three other uncapped players in the squad, alongside Low.

Wales had a successful start to the campaign in March, drawing 1-1 away to World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in Split with Nathan Broadhead scoring on his debut.

They then beat Latvia 1-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium thanks to a Kieffer Moore goal.

Rob Page’s side are currently second in group D, behind Croatia, with Turkey and Latvia sitting in the third and fourth places.

Wales play at home to Armenia in Cardiff on Friday June 16 and then away to Turkey in Samsun on Monday June 19.

Wales squad: Wayne HENNESSEY (Nottingham Forest), Danny WARD (Leicester City), Adam DAVIES
(Sheffield United), Joe RODON (Rennes- On loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Ben CABANGO (Swansea
City), Chris MEPHAM (AFC BOURNEMOUTH), Joe LOW (Bristol City), Connor ROBERTS (Burnley),
Morgan FOX (Unattached), Neco WILLIAMS (Nottingham Forest), Ben DAVIES (Tottenham Hotspur),
Ethan AMPADU (Spezia- On loan from Chelsea), Joe MORRELL (Portsmouth), Jordan JAMES
(Birmingham City), Dan JAMES (Fulham- On loan from Leeds United), Nathan BROADHEAD (Ipswich
Town), Aaron RAMSEY (OGC Nice), Harry WILSON (Fulham), Ollie COOPER (Swansea City), Luke
HARRIS (Fulham), Brennan JOHNSON (Nottingham Forest), David BROOKS (AFC Bournemouth), Liam
CULLEN (Swansea City), Kieffer MOORE (AFC Bournemouth), Tom BRADSHAW (Milwall).

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