Brentford striker Ivan Toney said on Monday he was ready to repay the Premier League club for their support by scoring goals when he returns from an eight month ban for 232 breaches of the betting rules.
The 27-year-old England international was the West London club’s top scorer last season and is allowed to play again from January 16 after resuming training in September.
Brentford have slipped to 16th in the league, four points clear of the drop zone, and need Toney back although the player has been linked in particular with Arsenal in the transfer window.
“Everyone knows Brentford is a family club, they have been nothing but amazing for me,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports television and the Daily Mirror.
“I can’t thank them enough, especially the fans. They were behind me from the first minute as well. So it’s kind of like I have a lot to repay.”
“They’re struggling at the moment but I’m sure when I’m back I will play a big part to get them out of the losing form they’ve been in. I can’t wait to get back and be helping my teammates.”
Toney’s first chance will be against Nottingham Forest on January 20 but he scored a hat-trick and an assist in the club’s 5-1 B team friendly win behind closed doors against Southampton under-23s last weekend.
Brentford are suffering injuries and absences, losing this season’s top scorer Bryan Mbeumo to an ankle injury and Yoane Wissa to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Toney said Brentford knew how to get themselves out of a hole but admitted it had been hard to be on the sidelines and confessed to “a stage where I fell out of love with football.
“I did watch Brentford games. I’d flick it on and I’d have it in the background just listening to the chances or the scoreline whereas before that I’d watch every Premier League game possible. League One, League Two – every league on TV.
“I kind of punished myself. But then I thought: ‘That’s not really helping me’.”
Toney recognised some would question whether he could return the same player as before but said he had no doubts about his abilities.
“I know what I’m capable of, so I guess when I get onto the pitch I’ll just do what I do best,” he said.