Sheffield United: Tough love helped David Brooks achieve his Wales dream

David Brooks celebrates with Mark Duffy at Hillsborough
David Brooks celebrates with Mark Duffy at Hillsborough

David Brooks’ presence in the Wales squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland vindicates Sheffield United’s handling of the youngster last season, manager Chris Wilder has insisted.

Brooks was an unused substitute during last night’s Group D victory in Tblisi, which saw Chris Coleman’s side second in the table head of Monday’s crucial meeting with Martin O’Neill’s squad.

Despite facing calls to award the 20-year-old his full league debut during last season’s promotion winning campaign, Wilder waited until Norwich City’s visit to Bramall Lane three weeks ago before naming Brooks in the starting eleven for a Championship fixture.

Explaining that decision was designed to teach Brooks a valuable lesson, the United manager said: “This way, he’s done it on merit. He’s not got in because of injuries or because it’s the end of the season and so we thought we’d just have a little look. He’s there because he warrants it, because he deserves to be involved and because he’s shown that on a consistent and regular basis. He’s taken to life with us really well.”

Brooks, who represented England at under-20 level before switching his international allegiance to Wales, announced his arrival on the senior stage with a man-of-the-match performance during United’s recent victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Leon Clarke, his attacking partner at Hillsborough, acknowledged Brooks had “been getting a little bit frustrated” when opportunities proved in short supply last term but backed United’s handling of the Steelphalt Academy graduate.

Wilder, whose team accumulated 100 points, 14 more than their nearest rivals, en route to the League One title earlier this year, added: “We’ve known about Brooko ever since we walked through the door here. It was only because we wanted to reward the lads who had got us into that position last season that he didn’t play more. I’ve got to say, if I’d been one of them, I wouldn’t have been happy if I’d been in that situation and then not played.”

Ched Evans has struggled for fitness so far this season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Ched Evans has struggled for fitness so far this season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Meanwhile, Wilder says undergoing ankle surgery will help Brooks’ fellow Welshman Ched Evans get back to his best.

“Ched can kick-on when it’s sorted,” he said. “He can do himself justice.”

Chris Wilder has always believed in David Brooks and Ched Evans: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder has always believed in David Brooks and Ched Evans: Simon Bellis/Sportimage