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Ivan Toney backed to emulate Christian Eriksen and ‘hit ground running’ for Bees

Toney is available again for Brentford after serving an eight-month gambling ban.

By Robert Oconnor
Friday 19 January 2024 22:30 GMT
Brentford manager Thomas Frank welcomes back Ivan Toney this weekend (Nigel French/PA)
Brentford manager Thomas Frank welcomes back Ivan Toney this weekend (Nigel French/PA) (PA Archive)

Ivan Toney is capable of the same impact made by Christian Eriksen when he returned to playing football following a cardiac arrest, according to Brentford boss Thomas Frank.

The 27-year-old striker is available for Brentford’s home game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday after completing an eight-month ban for breaking FA gambling rules.

Frank is in urgent need of Toney finding form quickly, with his team on a run of five consecutive Premier League losses that has seen them drop to within three points of the bottom three.

The club previously benefited from offering Denmark international Eriksen a route back into the game after his collapse during a European Championship game against Finland in June 2021.

Eriksen signed for Brentford eight months later after Italian regulations prevented him from remaining at former club Inter Milan.

The midfielder was instrumental in helping the team pull clear of the relegation zone and securing survival on their debut season in the division.

And Frank hopes the returning Toney can prove similarly talismanic for his ailing side.

“He’s a player that will hit the ground running,” said Frank. “I compare it a little bit to Eriksen. He wasn’t injured, it was a crazy thing that happened to him. But he hit the ground running and I expect the same thing from Ivan.

“He’s definitely played games in his career where there was more pressure on the game, like the play-off final (against Swansea in 2021) or semi-final, where there was much more at stake.

“Here there’s just a lot of noise around him. It’s whether he can leave it out there and just perform on the pitch.

“There’ll be a lot on it going into the game, but when he gets into his normal routine, he’s done it a thousand times. He’ll put the right sock on, then the left sock and then tie his boots, then he’ll be ready.”

I compare it a little bit to Eriksen. He wasn’t injured, it was a crazy thing that happened to him. But he hit the ground running and I expect the same thing from Ivan

Thomas Frank

Defeat against Forest would be Brentford’s eighth in nine league games and would leave them four points adrift of Nuno Espirito Santo’s upwardly mobile side.

The team have won just once since early November and with a host of players unavailable through injury and international commitments they risk being pulled into a relegation fight.

“Confidence is not through the roof because we don’t have the momentum,” said Frank. “But in football the confidence is just one game away to change.

“It’s one good action, a little bit of momentum, a deflected shot going into the back of the net, and you see a different team. Then we get a boost by getting Ivan back, that gives something.

“All that added together. Hopefully we can come out with good confidence.”

Frank added that England international Toney, who has been diagnosed as a gambling addict, has reflected on the actions that led to him missing the last 259 days for his team.

“He made a mistake, no doubt about that. He knows that. He’s been hard done by in general, in my opinion. But it’s in the past, and he’s focused on the game tomorrow.

“In a match he is always holding his hands up if he thinks there is something he should have done better. Sorry is a big word. If he could have done different I think he would have done, but we move on.”

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