'Toney will need to hit the ground running on his return'

Brentford fan's voice graphic
Brentford fan's voice graphic

Ian Westbrook, Beesotted podcast

Ivan Toney’s rehabilitation to football can officially begin on Sunday when he is allowed to return to training with Brentford.

The England striker was given an eight-month ban from the game in May for breaking Football Association betting rules, and Sunday is the halfway mark in his suspension.

He can play again from 17 January, although the Bees’ first Premier League game after that date is 13 days later at Tottenham.

In Toney’s absence, Brentford have made an unbeaten start to the season with six points from four games.

It is a solid points return, but there will be a bit of frustration that the total is not at least eight points or more, given that three of the matches were at home, especially after hitting the woodwork three times against Bournemouth.

It also echoes last season’s form when the Bees drew the highest number of Premier League games – 14 – along with Newcastle. We have so far drawn the most in the new campaign.

The results stretch the Bees’ unbeaten Premier League run to seven games going back to the end of last season, all without Toney.

And in his absence, both Bryan Mbeumo, with seven goals, and Yoane Wissa, with four, have stepped up.

However, Toney’s scheduled return could be timely given that Wissa’s DR Congo and Mbeumo's Cameroon have both qualified for the African Cup of Nations.

The tournament, from mid-January to mid-February, covers four Brentford Premier League fixtures so Toney will need to hit the ground running on his return.