MANAGER Eddie Howe backed David Brooks to handle the “difficult conditions” placed upon him in making his Premier League comeback and said: “I know that he has the ability to make the difference.”

Brooks has started all four of the Dorset club’s fixtures since the league’s resumption, his first appearances of the season following almost a year out with an ankle injury.

And while the playmaker’s ankle has been “very strong” since the return, the Warrington-born star has also been dealing with a hand problem picked up in an inter-squad training game.

But Howe believes Brooks, who today celebrates his 23rd birthday, has stood up well physically and mentally to the high-pressure test.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think David's done okay.

“I think it's been very difficult for him in a sense that, not just the ankle, his ankle has actually been very good, it has been very strong.

“But the hand injury he picked up in a training game. This was probably 10 days, two weeks before the season restarted, I think it's probably hampered him more to be honest.

“So he's had to manage both things and a lack of training time for almost a year. Very difficult conditions for him to return to the team and also the expectations placed upon him. You mix everything together. For such a young player, it's been a big test.”

Exciting prospect Brooks has played a total of 234 minutes of league action since his return.

“I know that he has the ability to make the difference for the team. I know he will improve for every game that he plays. So, I back him totally,” said Howe.

“Although he's very young, he's very mature in a sense that he can go out into the game and switch everything off and just play the game.

“That was one of the biggest compliments I gave him last year when he came into the team, from not really playing in the Championship too often - that he was able to handle the matches and the global exposure that the Premier League gives you. I think he did that really well.

“And I think he'll handle it again this time. We just hope that we don't run out of games before we see the best of it.”