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Toney to captain Brentford on return from betting ban

Ivan Toney will captain Brentford when he returns against Nottingham Forest on Saturday after an eight-month ban for breaching gambling regulations.

Toney’s suspension ended this week and he took to social media to celebrate by posting a GIF of a man holding his arms aloft, with the slogan “free!” on the bottom of the image.

As well as the ban, the 27-year-old was also fined £50,000 ($63,000) and warned about his future conduct for 232 breaches of the Football Association’s betting rules.

Toney’s last competitive match was in Brentford’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on May 6.

But he has been allowed to train with his team-mates since September and Bees boss Thomas Frank said he would give the England striker the captain’s armband to mark his return.

“He (Toney) is buzzing. He’s very committed and excited. He can’t wait,” Frank told reporters on Friday.

“He will start tomorrow and he will lead the team out as Christian Norgaard is injured.”

Despite the ban’s damaging effect on Brentford, who are just three points above the relegation zone, Frank hailed Toney’s leadership qualities and claimed he is the second-best striker in the Premier League.

“Not only this week, the last three-and-a-half years, he is a special character in many ways,” Frank said.

“He’s a fantastic person to be around myself, the staff, the players, the energy he brings, the smile, the positivity, every day at the training ground.

“On the pitch he wants to win, he wants to help the team, of course it’s a massive boost. It’s like a new signing.

“He’s the second-best striker in my opinion in the Premier League. Unbelievable commitment, he wants to go out there and help the team win.”

Toney has been linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea during the January transfer window and he did not rule out moving away from the west London outfit this month.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the crucial clash with fellow strugglers Forest, Toney said: “Well I don’t know, you can never predict when is the right time to move elsewhere.

“It’s obvious I’d like to play for a top club, everybody wants to play for the top clubs, fighting for titles and these kinds of things.

“So whether it’s this January for a club to come in and pay the right money, who knows?”

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