LONDON : Ivan Toney has set himself goals, literally, for the rest of the season and all eyes will be on the Brentford striker when he returns on Saturday from an eight-month ban for betting offences.
The West London club’s top scorer in 2022-23 is available for the late home game against Nottingham Forest and hopes to help Brentford ease their relegation fears after a run of five successive Premier League defeats and seven of the last eight.
The 27-year-old England international is on far bigger clubs’ wish lists, notably Arsenal and Chelsea, although the chances of a move in the January transfer window appear to be waning.
For the moment Brentford, with a string of key players absent or injured, need him back with a bang in what would be his first league game since May 2023.
Scorer of 20 goals in 30 league appearances last season, Toney hit a hat-trick for Brentford’s B team in a friendly earlier this month and looks likely to feature.
He said he already had a goal target in mind but would not share it until he hit it.
“It’s achievable and hopefully it can help me get to the Euros in the summer,” he told the club website, adding that scoring was how he intended to thank the fans for their continuing support.
“There’s no better feeling than scoring a goal, no matter who it’s against… I can’t wait for it to be against the big boys, scoring goals and helping the team get where they should be,” he added.
Brentford are 16th in the league, three points above the drop zone but with two games in hand over 17th placed Everton and 19th placed Burnley.
Forest, with Nuno Espirito Santo installed as manager just before Christmas, are a revived 15th but in danger of a 10 points deduction after being charged by the Premier League for a breach of the financial rules.
Arsenal are in action at home to Crystal Palace in the lunchtime game, with the Gunners fourth and five points adrift of leaders Liverpool after a recent run of two defeats and a draw.
Mikel Arteta’s side have lost their last three games in all competitions but have not been beaten for four in a row since March 2018.
Liverpool will go five points clear of champions Manchester City at the top if they beat Bournemouth away on Sunday. City are not in action again until the last day of the month, at home to lowly Burnley.
In Sunday’s other game, last-placed side Sheffield United host West Ham United while Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday.