Brighton & Hove Albion striker Ashley Barnes 'must learn lessons' after seven-match ban
Dunkerton professional footballer Ashley Barnes can still play a big part in Brighton & Hove Albion’s promotion push but only after he has learned the error of his ways, according to mentor Andrew Jones.
The former Paulton Rovers striker has been hit by a seven-game ban after he appeared to trip referee Nigel Miller in Brighton’s 1-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers earlier this month.
Jones, who helped nurture the 23-year-old’s talent during his successful tenure as Paulton boss, says Barnes is still hurting from the incident but backed him to help the Seagulls’ npower Championship play-off push once he returns.
“I’m still very friendly with Ashley, we probably speak twice a week on the phone,” said Jones, who managed Rovers from 2005- 2011.
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“Our wives are good friends and we’re going on holiday together at the end of May.
“He’s still very disappointed with what he did. I spoke to him every day for about six days afterwards and he was still devastated about it. It has really rocked him.
“He rang me on the coach on the way home from the game and realised he’d made a massive mistake.
“He’s apologised to the supporters and the club but the most important thing now is that he learns from it.
“We all make mistakes but he is still a young guy. All that matters is how we react to them and how we come back from them.
“If he comes back, scores goals and helps Brighton finish in the play-offs and maybe secure a place in the Premiership then it’ll all be forgotten.”
Barnes left Paulton for Plymouth Argyle in 2007 and had loan spells at several clubs before impressing enough at Brighton to secure a permanent deal in 2010.
Jones says the physical nature of Barnes’ game has played a key part in his rise through the football ranks but that it had spilled over at the Reebok Stadium.
“When I managed Ashley, a big part of his game was his physicality and his aggressiveness – he puts everything in for the cause,” said Jones.
“I’ve seen him play five or six times this season and he’s still like that.
“That’s the reason why people like Ian Holloway liked him and it’s why 19 times out of 20 [manager] Gus Poyet picks him for Brighton.
“Every team needs a player like that. Even with a team as good as Brighton they need someone with a bit of rough and toughness. The thing with Ashley is that he will give you 15 goals a season as well.
“I’m not that surprised something like this has happened because the way he plays is very close to line and, unfortunately, he’s stepped over it this time.”