SAINTS loa­nee David Brooks is hop­ing to return from the inter­na­tion­al break feel­ing hap­pi­er than team­mate Jan Bednarek.

Wales and Poland have both been drawn in Path A of this mon­th’s Euro 2024 play­offs and could face each oth­er in the final in Cardiff on Tues­day, March 26.

Wales will first have to beat Fin­land at the Cardiff City Sta­di­um, while Bednarek’s Poland are up against Esto­nia.

“This is a big camp where we could play two mas­sive games. It’s one that most foot­ballers would want to be involved with,” Brooks told the Dai­ly Echo.

“It means a lot. Every­one wants to be involved in these types of games. Every­one wants to play at major tour­na­ments. 

“Me and Jan have had a lit­tle bit of a joke about it, but we have both said we need to get there first.

“Poland are a good side but they are play­ing Esto­nia who can cause an upset.

“Hope­ful­ly, we play against each oth­er and I’ll be com­ing back to Southamp­ton a lit­tle bit hap­pi­er than him.”

Being drawn at home is a major boost for Wales. The Cardiff City Sta­di­um has played host to sev­er­al key wins in their recent his­to­ry, includ­ing a 2–1 vic­to­ry over Croa­t­ia back in Octo­ber.

“The fans are excel­lent, they will make a huge dif­fer­ence for us. The sta­di­um will be full and most of the cheer­ing will be for us,” he added.

“There is also no trav­el involved for us. We don’t need to go here there and every­where across Europe. Those are two big pos­i­tives.”

Since swap­ping the Pre­mier League for the Cham­pi­onship, Brooks has man­aged five goal con­tri­bu­tions — two goals and three assists.

He hit a goal and an assist in Southamp­ton’s 4–3 win at Birm­ing­ham, a game watched by Wales boss Rob Page, who was also scout­ing Blues mid­field­er Jor­dan James.

“Brooksy was on anoth­er lev­el,” Page told Sgo­rio. “He set up the first goal and scored the sec­ond. It was a great bat­tle and a great game to watch.”

Impress­ing the Wales boss was a key rea­son behind the ver­sa­tile attack­er’s deci­sion to push for a loan move away from Cher­ries.

“I want to be 100 per cent ready,” he explained to the Dai­ly Echo upon his arrival.

The 26 year old was forced to miss the 2022 World Cup, which was Wales’ first appear­ance at the tour­na­ment since 1958, hav­ing been diag­nosed with Stage II Hodgkins Lym­phoma in 2021.

Daily Echo: David Brooks scored his first Wales goal since beating cancer in their 2-0 win over Latvia in SeptemberDavid Brooks scored his first Wales goal since beat­ing can­cer in their 2–0 win over Latvia in Sep­tem­ber (Image: PA)

“My moti­va­tion isn’t height­ened by any sit­u­a­tion, I just want to reach the Euros on a per­son­al lev­el and to do it for Wales.

“All the boys will be pulling in the same direc­tion to try and do it. This camp was a big part of me want­i­ng to get out of Bournemouth on loan.

“I want to start the game (against Fin­land on Thurs­day, March 21). I’m not a play­er who wants to go away and sit on the bench.

“That hap­pens some­times because of dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions and sce­nar­ios. Rob Page will prob­a­bly look else­where but I want­ed to ensure I was in the best posi­tion pos­si­ble to be play­ing.”

The War­ring­ton-born Wales inter­na­tion­al is not the only play­er in the Cym­ru squad hop­ing to win pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship this sea­son.

Brooks will link up with Leeds’ Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Con­nor Roberts and Daniel James, Ipswich attack­ers Nathan Broad­head, Wes Burns and Kief­fer Moore and Leices­ter’s Dan­ny Ward.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to ful­ly switch off from the pro­mo­tion race,” Southamp­ton’s num­ber 36 quipped.

“I’m pret­ty sure there will be some ban­ter fly­ing around. It will all be friend­ly until we see each oth­er on the day we play against each oth­er.”

Brooks made his Wales debut against France in 2017 along­side Ampadu, who has cap­tained pro­mo­tion rivals Leeds since mid-Jan­u­ary.

Daily Echo: David Brooks was full of praise for promotion rival Ethan AmpaduDavid Brooks was full of praise for pro­mo­tion rival Ethan Ampadu (Image: PA)

Ampadu, 23, is now one game away from earn­ing his 50th cap. Brooks was full of praise for his Wales team­mate and pro­mo­tion rival.

“I don’t think you end up at Chelsea at 16 unless you are a real­ly good play­er. We have all known how good he is for a cou­ple of years.

“He’s maybe not had the great­est times away on loan but he has played reg­u­lar­ly wher­ev­er he has been. That is a tes­ta­ment to how he car­ries him­self. 

“We all know what he was about four or five years ago. Now he’s matur­ing and get­ting bet­ter.”