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NO DOUBTING BARNEY

Posted on 12 May 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton insisted it was only 'a matter of time' before Lee Barnard made his Premiership debut.

Chris Hughton insisted it was only 'a matter of time' before Lee Barnard made his Premiership debut.

After another successful campaign at reserve level, 'Barney' was called into the squad at Everton over the Easter weekend before taking his Premiership bow at the Lane against none other than Manchester United.

He did enough ruffling of feathers in that 15-minute spell off the bench to maintain his place in the squad for the rest of the season and impressed everyone with his performance in the penultimate game against Bolton after coming on for the injured Robbie Keane at half-time in a key 1-0 win.

His constant pressurising of Bolton’s defence in that game certainly helped us get back on the front foot and Aaron Lennon scored the winner in our best spell just after half-time.

That prompted Head Coach Martin Jol to say: "I think Lee helped kick-start us playing well because he gave everything," said Martin. "He showed me that my faith in him was always justified."

Barney – who finished top scorer in the Barclays Reserve League South with 19 goals, one ahead of Arsenal’s Nicolas Bendtner – completed his season with another substitute appearance at West Ham but, alas, there was no dream finale for him with his first Premiership goal, that will have to wait.

First assistant coach Chris explained: "We were quite fortunate in the forward areas with Robbie and Jermain fit for the majority of the time and possibly, if we’d played more games this season, I’m sure Lee’s introduction would have been a bit quicker.

"There is no bigger example at this club of someone who has worked hard to get his opportunity. He’s had a fantastic season for the reserves and his chance was going to come. He certainly wasn't fazed by it."