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Willie Irvine: Barnes can fill the injured Ings’ boots
WE all knew against Leeds it was going to be a very tough, physical game – a typical Leeds team who set out to intimidate.
They have always done it, right back to the days of Don Revie.
Jack Charlton was their centre half, and I have the scars to prove it was a battle against them.
But I found a way to get the better of him mentally by saying: “You, an England centre half? You’re rubbish!” Or at least words to that effect.
He was so short-tempered it would wind him up and he would follow me everywhere, trying to foul me or just kick me anywhere – and he succeeded as well, but only when the referee wasn’t watching.
In my day I can honestly say that Leeds were a very dirty team.
Another memory was approximately 20 seconds into one game the late Arthur Bellamy was carried off on a stretcher with a broken femur.
This all went on in the 60s. They wouldn’t have got away with it in today’s game.
But fast forward to Saturday and we had to be up for another battle against them.
We had Danny Ings missing due to an injury he picked up in midweek, so it gave Ashley Barnes an opportunity to impress on his full debut.
The longer the game went on the more the striker’s confidence grew, and he started to show that he and Sam Vokes could ease the pain of Danny’s absence.
I sincerely hope that injury isn’t serious and he gets back playing soon, for he is a talent that the team appreciates.
Rival Championship managers have appreciated what he has done this season too, by voting him the division’s player of the year.
It is a deserved accolade for our leading scorer.
But it tells you everything you need to know about our team this year that he is not necessarily a shoo-in for the club’s own main end of season award. A lot say it’s between Vokes and Ings, but in my opinion the reason we have been in such a strong position in the league for so long is because two men at the back have been tremendous all season – captain Jason Shackell and goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
They have been the backbone of the team and deserve recognition for their efforts.
A lot is made of the people who score the goals, but credit must go to the ones who stop them.
Full backs Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee have been priceless too, with both of them adding another assist to their tally to ensure the Clarets came back from behind to do a rare double over Leeds thanks to Scott Arfield’s winner.
What a signing he has proved to be – a free transfer too from Huddersfield – with seven goals from midfield a great return.
We remain in a great position for automatic promotion, which I think has to be achieved now.
But manager Sean Dyche quite rightly will not allow his team to talk about the possibility yet, and I’m sure the players – spurred on by their boss – will continue to take it a game at a time.
That has got to be the gameplan to stick to for the remaining 10.
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