DEAN Marney was delighted to be back in action in a Burnley shirt after making his return from a cruciate knee ligament injury ‘way ahead of schedule’.

The Clarets midfielder played 45 minutes for the Under-23s in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Friday, his first action since suffering the injury against Arsenal in January.

That was his second serious knee ligament injury in two years.

“It’s been a long time. A lot of hard work has gone into that and it’s way ahead of schedule really, which is good, so I was really happy,” Marney said.

“I felt good. But that’s just the first step and there’s still a long way to go.”

The 33-year-old said his knee had been given a good examination during training over the past two weeks and he now expects to step up his return with another outing for the Under-23s against Sheffield United at Curzon Ashton’s Tameside Stadium on Monday, October 23.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me with the lads being away on internationals,” he said.

“It’s been small groups and a lot of five-a-sides, a lot twisting and turning, so my knee has had a real good test, so it was nice to get out on a bigger pitch.

“I think the plan is to have another 45 in (the next game) and then the following Monday maybe 60 minutes. We’ve just got to keep on taking it slowly.”

Marney made his comeback from injury alongside striker Nahki Wells, who featured for the Clarets for the first time since joining from Huddersfield for £5million on deadline day.

The Bermudian striker has been recovering from surgery on a foot injury and he came through an hour of action in the 1-1 draw with Forest.

And Marney paid tribute to the work he had done during the summer with strength and conditioning coach Tom Short.

“I have done a lot of good work – a lot of strength work with Shorty. He’s been fantastic for me,” he said.

“He gave up a lot of his summer to come in with me over the summer, so a big thanks to him.”