Norwich goalkeeper Dan Barden is back in the Wales Under-21 squad seven months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Barden had surgery to remove the tumour following his diagnosis which was made while on loan at cinch Premiership side Livingston, and he underwent a course of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital.
The 21-year-old had three-week treatment cycles in London before Christmas, and he has now been given the all clear to rejoin Paul Bodin’s squad for Euro 2023 qualifiers against Holland and Gibraltar next month.
“Initially I thought it would be nothing more than a cyst but when I was told it was a tumour and I would need surgery, there’s not much that can prepare you for that,” Barden said in an interview with the official Norwich website.
“One of the important things I’ve been told numerous times is that I caught this about as early as was possible, which is hugely important in terms of prognosis.
“Looking back on everything that has happened, I feel more at ease and relaxed.”
Barden’s condition was made public just days after it was announced that senior Wales international David Brooks had been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.
The world of football rallied around the two players, including the entire Liverpool squad who sent a message of support by holding up their shirts at the club’s training centre.
Bournemouth forward Brooks, 24, announced he was cancer free earlier this month, although it is not known when he will return to action.
Bodin has named six players uncapped at U21 level in a 21-man squad for Wales’ final Euro qualifiers.
Luca Hoole, Tom Sparrow, James Connolly and Pat Jones have been called up for the first time with fifth-placed Wales out of qualifying contention.
Squad: D Barden (Norwich), L Webb (Shelbourne, on loan from Swansea), N Shepperd (Dundalk), L Hoole (Bristol Rovers), O Beck (Liverpool), F Stevens (Brentford), R Astley (Everton), Z Ashworth (West Brom), T Taylor (Burton), O Hammond (Nottingham Forest), E Thorpe (Luton), T Sparrow (Stoke), E King (Cardiff), E Turns (Brighton), J Connolly (Cardiff), S Pearson (Bristol City), J Adams (Dundalk), R Hughes (Everton), J Vale (Blackburn), L Jephcott (Plymouth), P Jones (Huddersfield).
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