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Ivan Toney returns as Brentford captain after eight-month suspension

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Brentford’s talismanic striker, Ivan Toney, is poised to make a triumphant return to action against Nottingham Forest this Saturday, stepping into the captain’s role after an eight-month suspension for violating gambling regulations. 

Toney, who recently marked the end of his suspension with a jubilant social media post featuring a “free!” slogan, incurred a £50,000 fine along with a stern warning about his future conduct due to 232 breaches of the Football Association’s betting rules.

The 27-year-old, whose last competitive appearance was in Brentford’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on May 6, has been permitted to train with his teammates since September. 

Thomas Frank announced that Toney would be handed the captain’s armband as a symbolic gesture to welcome him back, especially in the absence of the injured Christian Norgaard.

Frank, acknowledging the adverse impact of Toney’s ban on Brentford’s league position, lauded the striker’s leadership qualities. 

In a statement to reporters on Friday, he emphasized, “He (Toney) is buzzing. He’s very committed and excited. He can’t wait. He will start tomorrow, and he will lead the team out as Christian Norgaard is injured.”

Highlighting Toney’s significant influence both on and off the pitch, Frank asserted, “Not only this week, the last three-and-a-half years, he is a special character in many ways. He’s a fantastic person to be around… the energy he brings, the smile, the positivity, every day at the training ground.”

Frank went further to express his belief that Toney ranks as the second-best striker in the Premier League. 

“He’s the second-best striker in my opinion in the Premier League. Unbelievable commitment, he wants to go out there and help the team win,” Frank stated, portraying Toney’s return as a game-changer for the struggling Brentford, who find themselves just three points above the relegation zone.

In a press statement ahead of the crucial match against Nottingham Forest, Toney, who has been the subject of transfer speculation involving clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea, hinted at the possibility of a move. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said, “Well, I don’t know, you can never predict when is the right time to move elsewhere.” He expressed his desire to play for a top club, admitting that everyone aspires to compete for titles. Regarding a potential January move, Toney stated, “So whether it’s this January for a club to come in and pay the right money, who knows?”

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