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LEE'S UNITED FRONT

Posted on 8 September 2006  - 12:00

The prospect of the Manchester United fixture this weekend stirs fond memories for Lee Barnard and also fuels his determination to make a quick return from injury.

The prospect of the Manchester United fixture this weekend stirs fond memories for Lee Barnard and also fuels his determination to make a quick return from injury.

The young striker made his first team debut against United at the Lane last season, the first of three senior appearances. His first team involvement led to him missing the reserve team's Play-off final at Old Trafford.

Unfortunately, he won't be making the trip this time around either due to recently having ankle surgery after struggling over the course of pre-season.

"I have missed out, everyone likes to play at Old Trafford and I haven't even been there yet," said the 22-year-old. "Hopefully in the future I will, but at the moment it is not to be.

"I've had an operation on my ankle to have a bit of bone removed. I've had the problem for a little while, but it got worse and flared up quite badly in pre-season.

"It didn't settle so I had to have the op," he added, before reflecting on the setback of not being able to operate at full throttle during a time when he was so keen to impress.

"I wanted to come back flying and fighting fit. I couldn't play at 100 per cent and then you get down and your confidence goes. It was restricting me and I wasn't enjoying it so much.

"It is a big year for me and I wanted pre-season to go well and to be about the squad more. I need to show the gaffer I can make the big step, but injuries never come at a good time.

"I will work hard to come back better, score goals and hopefully get noticed again.

"The physios say it should be about four weeks before I am able to get back to training. I looked at the fixture list for the reserves and there is Reading at the start of October so that is what I'm aiming for."

Looking back to that Easter Monday afternoon when United presented the opposition at the Lane, Barney said it was the support of the fans that helped make his debut such a memorable occasion.

"We lost and that was disappointing, but it was a great day for me and I will never forget it. It was a dream come true and it is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

The crowd were brilliant and really supported me. They knew what I had been doing in the reserves and helped me along."