The 38-year-old Barnes has not played professional football in England since he left his 10th and last League club, Sunderland, in 1989. Since then, he has been coaching at Manchester City's School of Excellence and working as a radio commentator in Manchester - while he also had a spell as the coach of the Gibraltar national team.
Barnes, who took charge at Runcorn in November, said yesterday: "The offer of the job came here out of the blue, but I wanted to get back in to the game and you've got to cut your teeth somewhere."
A calf strain means that Barnes cannot make his comeback yet, but he is keen to play later in the season. His priority now is guiding Runcorn up the table. "We're playing more football now," he said, "and with a bit of luck we'll turn the corner."
Runcorn, who entertain Farnborough tomorrow, are one place off the bottom of the Conference. Dover climbed out of the bottom three with Tuesday's dramatic 4-3 win over title-chasing Woking. With two minutes left David Leworthy, the former Tottenham striker, completed his hat- trick to put Dover 3-2 in front. Darren Hay equalised within a minute but, in injury time, Leworthy converted a penalty to secure three vital points for the Kent club.
Tomorrow Dover have another crucial game at Telford, who dropped into the relegation zone after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at the leaders, Macclesfield.Reuse content