Striker Ashley Barnes' return to fitness is a welcome boost for the run-in

Sean Dyche was delighted to welcome striker Ashley Barnes back into the squad at Wolves on Sunday.
Ashley Barnes equalises against FulhamAshley Barnes equalises against Fulham
Ashley Barnes equalises against Fulham

And he feels the 31-year-old's return only bodes well for the remaining five games of the season.

Barnes was a surprise name on the teamsheet at Molineux, having missed the last two months with a torn thigh.

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It has been another frustrating season in terms of injury, for the former Brighton man, who also missed 25 games last term with a groin injury and subsequent hernia surgery.

He has been restricted to nine goals in the last two seasons, after hitting double figures in both of the previous campaigns.

Dyche has said the week before Wolves: "He's a strong character, so I'm pretty sure he'll come through it. He looks more alive in himself at the moment, he's just getting involved with us, not training fully, just getting around the group, and that will do him and us good."

But his progress was sufficient to be on the bench at Molineux, although Dyche admitted: "Barnesy was involved tbut probably needs another week's training if truth be known."

He added, however, "Delighted for him.

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"It's been a long run - a few of the players have had a real challenge on their hands and still have.

"It's been a real tough season in that regard.

"But there is plenty of activity from the players, and we do look stronger on the bench.

"Even in the summer, I said it, when everyone is fit, I believe we are a competitive group, and we're showing that again."

And he expects Barnes to have an impact, as and when he can dislodge the pairing of Chris Wood and Matej Vydra, who have scored nine goals between them in their last six starts together: "People don't forget about you, it's just when you're hot, you're hot, and when you're not, you're not, simple as that.

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"Something happens, a connection is made, and you go with that one, then someone is injured and the next one comes in and remind us 'oh he's a good player as well', it's the way football works.

"Everyone thinks the next answer is the right answer, but often you go back to the ones that have done well before, and they remind us why they're here, because they're good players.

"Barnesy will come again, I'm sure of that, as will Jay Rod - I believe in all four of the strikers, so they'll have their chances again."