AFC Bournemouth star David Brooks is confident he is closing in on a return to action from a troublesome ankle injury.
Brooks has been sidelined since suffering ligament damage during the Cherries’ pre-season friendly at Brentford in July.
The attacking midfielder recently resumed light training and has stepped up his rehabilitation under the watchful eye of the club’s sports science and medical staff.
Brooks, 22, enjoyed an impressive first season at Vitality Stadium following his move from Sheffield United, netting seven times in 30 games in the Premier League.
He told afcb.co.uk: "I’ve been out for a long time so it’s just a case of getting back to fitness.
"I’ve just started out on the grass so I’m running and trying to get up to speed with the boys. As long as there are no setbacks, I can then look to get back into training.
"After six months out, you don’t have a time-frame. It’s about ticking off everything on the to-do list.
"I’ve just started running so if that’s not a problem, we will move on to the next task and just take it task by task and, hopefully, get back into training soon."
Asked whether the treatment room had been a lonely place, Brooks referenced the first-team’s glut of injuries: "It would have been if I had been in there on my own but I’ve had a lot of company!
"Unfortunately, the team has had a few injuries this season so I haven’t been on my own. I’ve had a bit of banter with everyone in there so, hopefully, that’s behind me now and I can enjoy it with the rest of the lads on the pitch.
"As soon as I sustained the injury, I knew straightaway it wasn’t going to be a couple of weeks but didn’t know it was going to be six months and I don’t think the physios would have thought that either.
"I had a big operation and had to have another one after four months because there was a bit of floating bone in my ankle that was causing me quite a bit of discomfort.
"It was just a bit of bad luck and I don’t think anybody could have predicted it. I have just had to get on with it and try to get back to fitness.
"After what happened, I’m a bit more wary this time but I’m in high spirits, thinking that the bad stuff is behind me and I can push on.
"Touchwood, it’s my first bad injury and, hopefully, it’s my last as well!"
While Brooks admits his main priority is hitting the comeback trail with the Cherries, he also has his sights set on winning a place in the Wales squad for this summer’s European Championship.
Named player of the year and young player of the year by his country in 2019, Brooks missed the second half of Wales’ successful qualifying campaign, making his last appearance in the June defeat in Hungary having scored in the 2-1 loss to Croatia in Osjiek three days earlier.
Brooks added: "The only focus I’ve got at the moment is to help the team here. We’ve got good players and we play some really nice football.
"I don’t think we’ve had the rub of the green near enough all season and I think we’ve been a little unfortunate at times.
"We haven’t really reached as high a quality as we want but I think all the lads know that and are working towards rectifying it.
"It’s never nice sitting in the stands watching the team get the results they have and not being able to help or do anything to affect it. I’ve been working hard to get back as early as possible so I can try to make a difference.
"I had a good start but it’s not like I can sit back and admire what I did last season. I wanted to go again this season, score more goals, get more assists and play more minutes than I did last season.
"To be out for the first six months of the season is not nice for anyone. Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with it so, hopefully, towards the back-end of the season, I can put in some decent performances and have a good Euros.
"As a young boy, you dream of going to the Euros and the World Cup with your country. I really want to be part of the squad that goes to the Euros and make history.
"I want to be back fit for it and I really want to be in and around it so, hopefully, I can help Bournemouth first and then have a really good summer with Wales."
One high point of the season for Brooks has been the form of his close pal and former Sheffield United team-mate Aaron Ramsdale.
"I go way back with Aaron and I’m really good mates with him, on and off the pitch," said Brooks.
"I’ve always known he’s a really good goalie, he just needed his chance and it opened up for him and Travs (Mark Travers).
"Travs got his opportunity last season and did extremely well. Rammers showed what he could do in pre-season and got the nod at the start of the season and hasn’t looked back.
"I think he’s probably been our player of the season and it’s a credit to him because he’s put in the hours over the years and I think he’s taken his chance."