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    David Brooks to receive a Wales call-up next week after nearly two years out with cancer

    DAVID BROOKS will cap his recovery from cancer with a Wales call-up next week.The Bournemouth winger, 25, made his first start in 598 days in the 1-0 Premier League loss to Manchester United last Saturday.
    Brave David Brooks has fought back from his stage two Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in October 2021Credit: Getty
    Bournemouth star Brooks made his first club appearance following his cancer battle against Aston Villa in MarchCredit: PA
    But, as revealed by SunSport in March, Brooks, will be named in Robert Page’s squad next Tuesday for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey in June.
    Brave Brooks, who has made five Bournemouth appearances in total, has fought back from his stage two Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in October 2021.
    Page confirmed: “He will most definitely be in the squad. 
    “I am pleased for him because he’s had a long journey.
    “I got a bit excited in March. 
    “I tried to get him on camp then because you want your best players around you. He definitely falls into that category. 
    “We knew we had to manage it. You don’t go through what he’s gone through and not have little setbacks along the way.
    “Bournemouth have been incredible with the way they have handled it and got him back up to speed. It’s great that we have got him available.”
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    Brooks’ last of his 21 Wales caps came at Euro 2020 when he was a sub in the 4-0 hammering by Denmark.
    While Brooks returns, Page is waiting to find out if Nottingham Forest’s Neco Williams will be available for the Group D double-header on June 16 and 19.
    Full-back Williams has been out of action since he broke his jaw in April.
    Page added: “There’s conversations to be had with ourselves and the club, both medical teams. 
    “The squad is going to be announced next week. We will have conversations in the meantime and see where we are at with that before we make that decision.” More

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    Ashley Williams gives Wales’ next generation an insight into major tournament life ahead of Under-17s Euros

    ASHLEY WILLIAMS delivered a pep talk to Wales’ stars of the future ahead of their European Under-17 Championship finals tilt.Williams led Chris Coleman’s senior side to the Euro 2016 semi-finals and won 86 caps.
    Ashley Williams has passed his tournament experience onto the next generation of WalesCredit: Reuters
    Williams was Wales captain when Chris Coleman’s side reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals and the defender scored in the quarter-final against BelgiumCredit: Getty – Contributor
    And the ex-Dragons captain visited the squad to give an insight to the next generation about his experiences of playing at a major tournament.
    Wales’ squad, which includes Manchester United forward Gabriele Biancheri, have met in Cardiff.
    They have reached their first appearance at a youth finals since 1981.
    Wales open their tournament against hosts Hungary in Budapest on Wednesday.
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    Williams, 38, posted on Instagram: “The gift is always to be passed on, it’s not yours to keep.
    “An attitude of gratitude @fawales.
    “Pleasure to speak to our U17s ahead of their Euros campaign.”
    Craig Knight’s Wales, who qualified for the first time in their history after a 2-2 draw with Montenegro in the elite round, also face Poland and Republic of Ireland in Group A.
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    England are in Group D and start their campaign against Croatia on Thursday and also face Netherlands and Switzerland. 
    Scotland take on holders France plus Germany and Portugal in Group C. More

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    Arsenal and Wales legend Aaron Ramsey wants new Nice deal after rebuilding career in France following Juventus hell

    AARON RAMSEY wants to extend his stay in Nice by signing a new contract.The Wales captain, 32, joined the French club on a 12-month deal last summer following a nightmare spell with Juventus.
    Aaron Ramsey has enjoyed his first season with Nice in Ligue 1Credit: Getty
    But injury-plagued Ramsey has managed to stay fit for the majority of the Ligue 1 season to make 34 appearances across all competitions for Nice. 
    The former Arsenal star said: “Things have panned out quite nicely this season.
    “We have worked hard, the coaches, medical staff and myself to make sure that I am in my best shape to go out and play.
    “That communication has been key. Managing my load throughout the week has been important. It’s been a real team effort.
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    “I feel good and that’s backed up by the amount of minutes and games I have played this year.”
    Ramsey added: “I feel very comfortable at the moment. Playing games, having opportunities and the coaches have been great to me.
    “They have given me a few days off here and there to go back and see my family. That’s been a challenge, there’s no doubt about that.
    “Football-wise, it’s a great club and it’s going in the right direction and this year we have taken a step forward so there’s no problems with that point of view.
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    “Of course, I’d like to be a part of that. I’m sure we will be in discussions at the end of the season.”
    A key factor in those talks for Ramsey will be whether his family join him on a permanent basis in the south of France.
    His wife Colleen and their three children have remained in Wales since he moved to Rangers in January 2022.
    When asked if his family would move to the Cote d’Azur, Ramsey added: “Of course, there’s a lot of decisions to make at the end of the season and what is best for me and my family. 
    “It’s not an easy thing to get that balance right. But that’s definitely something we will look into and is definitely an option.
    “We will see. Let’s finish off the season and then we can go from there.”
    While Ramsey is happy at Nice, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is to leave the French top-flight and leaders Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires at the end of the season.
    Ramsey said: “He’s still a Paris player at the moment.
    “I can’t comment on speculation. That’s their problem and his. That’s nothing to do with me.”
    Nice, who beat Rennes 2-1 on Saturday, are eighth in the table but caretaker boss Dider Digard’s side, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, reached the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League.
    The Wales captain is keen to extend his stay in the south of FranceCredit: Getty
    Ramsey struggled at Juventus after a raft of injuriesCredit: Getty
    Ramsey added: “In spells this season we have seen what this team and club are capable of doing.
    “Now it’s about getting consistency over the course of a season and taking the next step of competing and fighting for Champions League places or the league. That’s the next step for this club to take.
    “The coach has come in with his staff and done a fantastic job. It’s not easy to come in mid-season and to go on the run we went on to arrive at a quarter-finals.
    “He’s been a player, he understands and he knows what is important to do and how to get the best out of the team. He’s been brilliant and there would be no arguments to see him there next season.”
    Ramsey has only scored once for Nice – back in August against Toulouse and knows his stats should be better.
    He said: “The way I play and the attacking opportunities that I like to get into, I would have liked to have scored more goals this season.
    “There’s still a few games left to get a few but on the whole I’ve had some opportunities.
    “Going forward, scoring more goals and killing the game when we have that opportunity is something we can improve on as a team. 
    “I know I have the capability of scoring goals and I want to score more.”
    Ramsey’s Wales are in talks to play South Korea in a Cardiff friendly in September before they travel to Latvia in a Euro 2024 qualifier.
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    Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said: “We’re really close to agreeing to playing in Cardiff in September against South Korea, which Jurgen Klinsmann manages.
    “We are hoping we can announce that quite soon. We’re close but it’s not done yet.”
    Ramsey stood out at Arsenal where he began his senior careerCredit: PA More

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    Ex-keeper coach Fred Barber hails tough guy Aaron Ramsdale as he bids to win the Premier League

    AARON RAMSDALE and his Arsenal team-mates must show mental toughness in the final eight matches to win the Premier League title.But boss Mikel Arteta will have no worries over goalkeeper Ramsdale, who has shown northern grit throughout a tough journey to reach the top.
    Aaron Ramsdale produced a series of stunning late saves for Arsenal in last Sunday’s 2-2 draw at LiverpoolCredit: Getty
    As a kid, the hungry Gunners No 1 trained in all conditions, including a swamp at Fred Barber’s soccer school in Stoke.
    That tough schooling moulded Ramsdale’s character which will be vital in the pressure cooker of the title race as Arsenal bid to hold off champions Manchester City.
    England keeper Ramsdale, 24, stepped up in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool last Sunday with a series of stunning late saves to secure a valuable point.
    Barber told SunSport: “I first saw Aaron when he was ten at my Friday hourly sessions.
    “He was a skinny kid, a little runt. He had a cheeky face and I liked that because I was a character too.
    “I treated the kids like professional keepers and you either worked hard or thought, ‘This is too hard and drift off’.
    “Some keepers would be sick because the drills pushed them to the limits.
    “As a coach I was trying to find out how far they could go and what they were made of.
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    “It didn’t frighten Aaron. His attitude was brilliant. The more I pushed him the more he wanted it.
    “Kids can be emotional but he worked hard. He had that northern grit.
    “I grew up in the north east and Aaron is from Stoke, both industrial and working class backgrounds. You have to be a grafter to get to where you want to go.
    “People think he’s got all the Adidas gear on and he’s playing for Arsenal.
    “But they don’t realise how he has learnt his trade playing for Chesterfield, Wimbledon, Sheffield United, Bournemouth.
    “Only one in a 1,000 make it but the ones who graft tend to make it more than the gifted ones.
    “When you cross the white line and have the pressure of playing in front of crowds you have to be able to handle it.
    “Aaron is mentally strong. He plays in the Premier League, he’s gifted but he’s a normal lad who has had to work hard to get there.”
    Barber himself made almost 400 football league appearances for clubs like Darlington, Walsall and Peterborough over a 17-year playing career.
    The 59-year-old, now Crewe’s goalkeeper coach, freelanced for several top-flight clubs before he was appointed Sam Allardyce’s keeper coach at Bolton in 2004.
    Ramsdale’s inspiration as a goalkeeper was Bolton stopper Jussi JaaskelainenCredit: Action Images – Reuters
    Barber, who wore a mask during his career, coached and developed the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ali Al-Habsi, Adam Bogdan and Tomasz Kuszczak.
    But Ramsdale showed his desire to join those Prem keepers even from an early age.
    Barber recalled: “I remember the training pitch was underwater. It was tanking it down, thunder and lightning and I sat in my car thinking, ‘There’s nobody coming to the session. That’s great, I can go home and I won’t get drenched’.
    “Then the little b****r turned up!
    “Only two or three die-hards would be there and Aaron was one of them.
    “We were training in a swamp. We tried to find a dry piece of grass to train, it was like the Kes movie where they were covered in mud.
    “You look for characters. You can get fair weather footballers but Aaron was there every time rain or shine, ice and snow. He’d be shivering but it’s all part of your armour.
    “80 per cent of football is in your head, so you have to be mentally tough because every mistake is highlighted on television.
    “It has killed some goalkeepers like Peter Enckleman or Massimo Taibi. We didn’t see much of them after high-profile mistakes.
    “You have to take the flak as well as the good. Mistakes will hurt Aaron inside but it’s how you deal with it.”
    Barber took Ramsdale to Bolton’s academy during his teenage years along with his own son Jonathan, also a promising keeper.
    Twice a week, the pair would leave school at three, get a lift from Barber’s wife to Knutsford where the then Trotters keeper coach would pick them up and take them to a two-hour training session at Bolton and then drop them home at 9.30pm.
    But Ramsdale – against Barber’s wishes – was released by Bolton’s academy at the age of 15 because he was too small and getting lobbed too often.
    Barber added: “He’s had his knocks, released by Bolton but he was like ‘I’ll show people’.
    “It has made him hungrier and he’s proved people wrong.”
    Barber sees similar traits in Ramsdale, who faces West Ham today, as Jaaskelainen, who had a successful 15-year Prem career with Bolton and the Hammers.
    He added: “Aaron is just like Jussi. Blonde hair, same stance with their hands and feet.
    “The save Aaron pulled off against Mo Salah against Liverpool last week was similar to ones Jussi has made.
    “I’d still say Jussi is the best keeper I’ve coached. Aaron still has a way to go.
    “His kicking is better than Jussi and his shot stopping is up there but Jussi played into his forties.
    “Goalkeepers make mistakes and don’t mature until they are 28 but Aaron has another four years before he comes into his prime.”
    Kind-hearted Ramsdale donated 40 Premier League match balls to Barber’s soccer school worth up to £4,000 with costs spiralling post- Covid and also name-checked one of his first coaches after his Anfield heroics to show he has not forgotten his roots.
    Barber said: “I’ve had Premier League and international keepers representing England, Finland and Oman.
    “But I’ve never had a Premier League winner and that would be a great achievement.
    “It’s comic book stuff, something out of the Victor or the Beano.
    “For someone to achieve their dream of playing in the Premier League, play for England and win the league would be a fairytale.
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    “It’s like winning the lottery. He’s a boy out of Stoke who has done good.
    “It was great that he gave me a name check ? now the kids will believe that I did coach him!” More

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    France superstar Antoine Griezmann picks his dream 5-a-side team including Kante, Beckham and Barcelona enigma Dembele

    ANTOINE GRIEZMANN has played with some pretty decent players in his time, it’s fair to say.But the 32-year-old France forward, who stars for Atletico Madrid, did manage to pick his dream five-a-side team of team-mates, including one footballing legend.
    France star Antoinne Griezmann has named his dream five-a-side teamCredit: The Mega Agency
    Antoine Griezmann picked his dream 5-a-side team from team-mates and one footballing legend
    And he is backing them to stay undefeated despite two notable absentees.
    The striker even opted to go WITHOUT a goalkeeper in his all-star team.
    Speaking to Oh My Goal, Griezmann talked through his side: “I’d go with Ousmane Dembele and I would say NG, N’Golo Kante, because you never lose when he’s on your team.
    “I would take Godin because he always finds a way to cheat and win!

    That means there is no place for France team-mate Kylian Mbappe in the side.
    However, when asked who the most skilful player is, Griezmann said either Mbappe or fellow Frenchman Dembele.
    The Atleti star also said that Diego Costa is the best player he has played with, saying: “I would have to say Diego Costa, for the support he gives me on the field.

    “Because he allows me to play freely. He’s a guy I really work well with on the pitch.
    “We understand each other with a single look, we know where we’re both at.
    “On top of that he’s a fighter and he brings that out in me, which I love. It’s rare to have that with a team-mate.”
    Surprisingly, Griezmann said the best player he has faced on a football field is Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong, who is at Barcelona.
    But Griezmann said former Real Madrid defender Pepe was the toughest to play against.
    Griezmann added: “I tried to put pressure on De Jong and never succeeded.
    “Pepe is always breathing down your neck. He’s always on top of you and he’s a player who’s very difficult to get past.”

    A team with N’Golo Kante in doesn’t lose according to his international team-mateCredit: AP:Associated Press
    Diego Godin gets into the side because he will always find a way to win – even if it means cheatingCredit: AFP OR LICENSORS

    Diego Costa helped to get the best out of his strike partner at the Wanda MetropolitanoCredit: AFP OR LICENSORS
    Griezmann struggled to even get close to Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Frenkie De JongCredit: Reuters
    But the World Cup winner was very much sat on the fence when he was asked to settle the ongoing debate.
    “Best player of all time? Well, you know… It depends on the era but I would say either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
    “I never saw how Diego Maradona and Pele played. It’s a tough question, everyone has their own style.
    “There’s also Zinedine Zidane. Zidane won the World Cup, Messi and Ronaldo never have.”
    Finally, Griezmann – who faces England in the World Cup quarter final – made a shock selection when asked to pick his best footballing memory.
    Despite helping France win the World Cup in 2018, he did not opt for that.
    Instead, he said: “When we moved into the first division with Real Sociedad [2009/10].
    “It was honestly the first time that my knees were shaking because it was my first year and the atmosphere was incredible. It was all new for me and it was intimidating.”
    The Frenchman spent nine years at Real Sociedad and helped them get promoted back into La LigaCredit: AFP – Getty More

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    Bournemouth star David Brooks scores a hat-trick on his first start since his cancer battle

    DAVID BROOKS hit a hat-trick on his first start since his cancer battle.The Bournemouth ace, who had a cameo at Aston Villa last weekend, netted three in a 45-minute outing as the development side beat Portsmouth 5-2 in the Hampshire Senior Cup.
    David Brooks came on after 536 days on the sidelines following his cancer battle as a second half substitute against Aston Villa last weekendCredit: PA
    Brooks netted his treble by bundling in the first from close range before a strike with both his left and right foot in front of the watching Cherries boss Gary O’Neil at the Vitality Stadium.
    Bournemouth’s official twitter account tweeted: “The perfect return for @DRBrooks15.
    “The winger netted a hat-trick for the development squad this evening.”
    It was the first time Brooks has scored since August 2021 when he found the back of the net against Nottingham Forest.
    The 25-year-old has battled back from his Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in October 2021.
    But the Wales attacker revealed he was ‘cancer free’ last October.
    After 529 days, Brooks was in the Bournemouth matchday squad and an unused sub against Liverpool earlier this month.
    Then Brooks, who has 21 Welsh caps, came off for the final 11 minutes of the Cherries’ 3-0 Prem defeat at Villa Park on Saturday.
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    But Brooks will hope his goalscoring return can provide a personal boost ahead of the season run-in and a possible Wales return for Euro 2024 qualifiers in June.  More

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    Wales consider shock reunion with recently departed England backroom staff member

    WALES are weighing up a return for psychologist Ian Mitchell.SunSport revealed on Wednesday that Mitchell has left his post as the Football Association’s head of performance and psychology.
    Ian Mitchell (left) has had successful spells with both Wales and England under Chris Coleman and Gareth Southgate
    Dragons boss Robert Page stated earlier this year that he was keen to bring a psychologist on board to provide an extra edge in the post-Gareth Bale era.
    Wales have not had one since Mitchell left for the FA in February 2018 after becoming a key figure in Chris Coleman’s set-up which included the memorable run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
    Highly-rated Mitchell was popular among Football Association of Wales staff and he will not be short of offers following his departure from Gareth Southgate’s backroom staff.
    Wales are now on red alert after the development that his services have become available.
    Page said in January: “I want to bring in a full-time psychologist. Every other association has got one. We haven’t.
    “We need to keep evolving, progressing and improving. That’s certainly an area we need.
    “The players will thrive on that. The psychologist will come in and be a part of the culture and make sure the new players buy into that.” 
    Wales kick-off their Euro 2024 qualifiers against World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in Split on March 25 followed by a home match with Latvia in Cardiff three days later.
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    The Dragons, now captained by Aaron Ramsey, have reached three of the last four major tournaments.
    But they must overcome the obstacles of retirements from talisman Bale, Joe Allen, Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams.

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    Who is Loris Karius’ girlfriend Diletta Leotta?

    ITALIAN sports journalist Diletta Leotta first hit the headlines in 2017 when she blasted hackers who stole private nude pictures from her iCloud and then posted them online.Now, she’s back in the headlines as she’ll be at Newcastle’s huge Carabao Cup final against Manchester United, cheering on Magpies boyfriend Loris Karius
    Diletta Leotta regularly shares skimpy shots on her social media
    Who is Diletta Leotta?
    Born on August 16, 1991, Diletta Leotta was raised in Sicily, Italy.
    The stunning blonde studied Law at the Luiss University in Rome and graduated in 2015.
    Diletta previously presented Sky Sports’ coverage of Serie B in Italy but has since moved to broadcaster DAZN and now presents Serie A fixtures.
    Leotta is also known for her relationship with Magpies goalkeeper Loris Karius and she will be firmly in the shot-stopper’s corner for Newcastle’s Carabao Cup clash against Manchester United.

    What happened with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
    Ibra and Diletta first met during lockdown when they filmed an ad for running app BuddyFit.
    Italian media outlets such as Chi have alluded to the journalist getting flirty with footballing icon Ibrahimovic in 2020 despite the player having a wife.
    The pair were apparently recently spotted at a restaurant in Sardinia together when Diletta was celebrating her 29th birthday on the island.
    And the front pages of a number of Italian newspapers splashed on wild claims about the pair’s close relationship.
    Italian magazine Chi went with the headline “the surprise couple of the summer” on their cover.
    Ibrahimovic,  has been with wife Helena Seger for over 20 years and the couple have two sons together, Maximilian and Vincent.
    Diletta previously dated Italian boxer Daniele Scardina, but she called time on their relationship.
    Scardina recently told Tips For Women: “Diletta is the best that life has given me.
    “I don’t throw myself on the ground. I am a boxer. I took a punch, she left me.
    “I am in Sardinia, she ditto. But not together. Unfortunately”
    Leotta and Zlatan have reportedly grown close
    Is she on social media?
    The presenter has amassed a huge following across her various social media accounts.
    Her Twitter account has approximately 232.8k followers, as well as an Instagram following of over 8.6 million followers.

    Her Instagram page, where she regularly posts a variety of work, exercise-related and sexy holiday snaps, has the most devoted following.
    What happened to Diletta in 2017?
    Diletta recalled the heart-stopping moment when she realised that her smartphone had been hacked and pictures she considered private had entered the public domain.
    She said: “My phone would not stop ringing with calls, messages, WhatsApp.
    “I didn’t cry at first. I found strength I didn’t even know I had. But after three days, yes, I succumbed.
    “Those photos maybe I sent to someone, perhaps a couple of them. I hadn’t seen the pictures for years.
    The 29-year-old shows off the results of her fitness program on social media
    “I became aware that they were part of my private archive. Someone must have intentionally hacked into my iCloud account.”
    But Diletta said she felt no regrets or guilt over what happened to her and urged other victims of hacking abuse to follow her example.
    The popular presenter said that she had even been accused “by less intelligent and sensitive people” of leaking the photographs herself for the publicity.
    But insisted: “It seems clear that the road I want to take is very different.”
    After her pictures were leaked online, Diletta was supported by Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, 26, who said: “Everyone is free to do what they want with their body, for better or worse.
    “People who abused this situation are a**holes.” More