Forward’s gunning to terrorise Tykes

Luke Varney got some welcome playing time in the friendly with FC Rostov
Luke Varney got some welcome playing time in the friendly with FC Rostov
Conor Chaplin, left, and Oli Hawkins, right, are two options to replace the injured Brett Pitman against Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Luke Varney released the suspension shackles and vowed: I’m raring to go.

The Pompey forward is gunning for Barnsley on Saturday, having served a three-game ban for his red card at Hull last month.

Varney has been a frustrated spectator after missing the win against former side Blackpool and defeats to Peterborough and Leeds.

Steve Cotterill believes his side have been missing the £750,000 summer arrival’s forward-thinking quality during his absence.

Varney has had to look on as Pompey’s form has stuttered in recent weeks.

The 29-year-old spoke of his difficulty in having to watch from the sidelines.

But he is now determined to make up for lost time – starting against the Tykes in the Saturday tea-time Sky-televised clash.

Varney said: ‘It was a bit easier to miss the Blackpool game when we won it but I’ve never been good at watching games, especially with the situation we’re in and you want to pull your weight.

‘We’ve got a good group here and not to be involved is very disappointing after such an innocuous challenge (against Hull).

‘I found it hard but the lads have kept me involved and I’ve been to every game.

‘It’s just a case of keeping fit and being ready for the next chance.

‘I will have to keep myself topped up and, hopefully, I get the shout on Saturday.’

Varney maintains he was harshly treated by the dismissal he received at the KC Stadium for a late tackle on defender James Chester.

The red card means he will have spent a month without featuring in league action, if he returns against Barnsley.

The former Derby man has been keeping himself primed for action, however, and was given a handy run-out against FC Rostov last weekend.

Varney said: ‘I’ve watched the challenge a lot and I’ve gone over and over it, but it just makes me more disappointed seeing it again.

‘I realised after about 10 times that I just had to stop, get over it and get myself ready for the next game.

‘Your fitness drops a bit but there’s nothing you can do. I’ve worked hard and done some extra training with Chris Neville, our fitness coach.

‘But it was really handy to get some minutes under my belt against FC Rostov, get a win – even though it was a friendly – and it should give us a bit of confidence that we can take into the Barnsley game.

‘I got sent off on the 17th (of September) and it was horrible when I knew I would be out for about a month.’