Clarets striker Barnes still has to pinch himself

Ashley Barnes celebrates his opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
Ashley Barnes celebrates his opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
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Clarets striker Ashley Barnes still has to pinch himself whenever he reminisces about his journey in football.

Four years ago the 28-year-old made his debut for the club against Yeovil Town at Huish Park having already worked his way through the lower leagues to procure his move from Plymouth Argyle to Brighton.

Now Barnes is expected to be given the nod to take on Manchester United - the club he supported as a boy - for the sixth time of his career in his third campaign in the Premier League.

Having scored his 14th goal in the top flight against the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, he said: "You always pinch yourself. From where I have come from it’s fantastic with the story of building my way up through the leagues. It’s a great achievement for me personally.

"It's still a buzz, it’s not necessarily the players, it’s the stature of the club. With Manchester United coming town it’s every boys dream to one day play against the best.

"For me personally it’s a fantastic achievement because I have come so far. As a kid you always think ‘please I just want one game’ and now I have played in the Premier League for three seasons."

Barnes felt that his contribution in the reverse fixture at the Theatre of Dreams was the stand out performance of his season so far, adding that his goal was one of his proudest moments.

The striker opened the scoring in the third minute, with Steven Defour netting a second before the interval, but the hosts mounted a second half comeback to snatch a point.

"It’s always nice when the ball hits the back of the net," he said. "I want to score as many goals as possible.

"Of course that will give you confidence. Whoever you score against that will give you confidence.

"This season that will be my highlight so far, the performance I put in. For me holding the ball up is as good as scoring a goal, bringing people into play. As long as I can do that it’s brilliant.

"That game has gone, though. It’s all about now and now we move award. As soon as you get over that white line it’s game on and you just want to come away with three points."