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.”