MANAGER Eddie Howe hoped playmaker David Brooks was “on that final part” to regain full fitness and feature in Cherries’ business end of the campaign.

The Wales international is yet to kick a ball competitively for the Dorset club this season, having been plagued by an ankle injury since last summer.

Brooks suffered ankle ligament damage during a pre-season friendly at Brentford in July and has since undergone two operations in a bid to get back up to full speed.

He is now continuing his recovery at Cherries and Howe insisted signs looked positive for the Warrington-born star.

The boss said: “David has come back. He’s back with us. He’s getting treatment with us here now.

“He’s doing okay. He’s doing well. We’re happy with his progress.

“It’s not always been plain sailing for him. He’s had various different feelings and sensations in his ankle.

“It hasn’t been a hundred per cent smooth process and that’s all the way through.

“But we hope we’re on the right path now, we hope he’s on that final part to get back to full fitness.

“I’m reluctant to put a date or a timescale on it because it’s been too bumpy a road really to do that now. But let’s see.

“But I do think mentally he’s in a better place now. He’s a lot more confident that hopefully he’s going to get there.”

Brooks burst on to the scene in the top flight last campaign following a £10million move from Sheffield United.

The attacking midfielder scored seven times and recorded five assists in 30 Premier League games.

It is thought Brooks may be available to feature towards the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the Daily Echo understands winger Arnaut Danjuma is back with Cherries to continue his rehabilitation on a foot injury.

Asked whether possible returns for Brooks and Danjuma played a part in a lack of signings during the January transfer window, Howe replied: “I think if they were going to be out for the season then it may have forced our hand to do something.

“But you’ve got Junior (Stanislas) coming back to fitness, you’ve got those guys that aren’t far away.

“You could bring a player in for two or three games with no guarantee they’re better than the players you’re already playing.

“It’s a difficult situation to do. You’re going to spend money, you’re going to bloat the squad, not necessarily a healthy thing. So we’re banking on those players coming back fit.

“There’s no reason why they shouldn’t and they’re difference-makers, they’re top, top players.

“So that’s all part of the process. And you add Joshua King to that who can play wide as well, it almost gives us an array of options if they’re back fit."