Football: Barnes shines in the reserves

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The Independent Online
John Barnes turned in a sparkling show in a Newcastle United reserves game against Scarborough in front of barely 2,000 spectators last night to signal he is ready to make his full Newcastle debut, possibly on Saturday. With David Batty - away on England duty - out of Saturday's visit of Wimbledon because of suspension, Barnes' performance demonstrated he is ready to return to the Premiership limelight.

Barnes scored a superb goal at the McCain Stadium, Scarborough as the Magpies' drew 1-1 with their opponents, but what was even more impressive was his all-round form.

The 33-year-old midfielder said: "I am ready to play for the first team now. And I am hoping to play on Saturday. But naturally it is up to the manager. I know the only way I am going to get fit is by playing matches, be it in the first team, the reserves or just in training. I know I have got to continue to catch up after not playing for three weeks when I joined them and then picking up an injury when I got here which kept me out for a few days."

In possession on over 40 occasions he gave the ball away only four times and, on each of these occasions, he was trying to put a team-mate in on goal with a deft pass lifted over the home defence.

Darren Peacock, also winning his battle to regain fitness, said of Barnes: "He is a quality performer and I don't think he has lost anything in ability. You know that if you give him the ball, in whatever position on the pitch, he seems to find space. He is a great signing and on last night's performance would let no one down. He still has all the ability in the world. His touch is outstanding."

Barnes' goal, curled superbly from the edge of the Scarborough penalty box, showed he still has the ability to find space and to finish with precision.

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