Harvey Barnes’ Leicester City hope after lifting ‘weight off the shoulders’ against Napoli

Harvey Barnes feels the goals could flow for him after he lifted “a weight off the shoulders” with his first Leicester City strike since his serious knee injury.

Barnes hit the second of City’s goals on Thursday night as they moved into a 2-0 lead against Europa League opponents Napoli, only to be pegged back, their group-stage opener finishing 2-2.

It was Barnes’ first goal since a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in February, the same month he suffered a serious knee injury that required two surgeries and kept him out for the remainder of the campaign, as well as the European Championships. England manager Gareth Southgate namechecked him as a player who would have been in contention if they were fit.

After recovering, Barnes has started every game this season, and while the Countesthorpe-raised winger knew he wasn’t going to be back to his best straight away, he feels like he will be able to take bigger strides towards top form now he has his first goal under his belt.

“It’s something I knew I had to be patient with because you can’t just expect it to click within the first few minutes of being back,” he said. “It takes a bit of time.

“I’ve played a few games and I feel fitness is coming on really well and my sharpness as well.

“As an attacker, you want to be scoring goals, so to get that first goal out of the way for the season, it’s a weight off the shoulders. Hopefully I can kick on and continue scoring hopefully.”

Barnes played in a new front four for City, with Patson Daka leading the line on his home debut, Kelechi Iheanacho supporting behind, and with Ayoze Perez on the right.

It was Perez who scored the opener, volleying in Barnes’ cross at the back post.

It was one of a number of good moves City put together, and Barnes believes City now have the attacking depth to cause any side problems.

Albeit defensive slackness ensured they only came away with a point on Thursday.

“They’re a very good side and we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Barnes said. “After getting ourselves ahead in the game and playing some really good football, we will be disappointed not to come away with all three points.

“We knew the first few games in the group are important, you need to get as many points as you can, you don’t want to be chasing points come the end of the six games. You want to get yourself in a good position and then build on it from there.

“We won’t be too disappointed, but on the night there’s a little bit of a bitter taste not to come away with the win.

“I thought we played some really good football. We created chances, and we had the disallowed goal.

“We know how strong our squad is, the players we’ve brought in are real talents. There’s not really an 11 and that’s it. We’ve got such a good squad that there’s going to be so much rotation this year. We’ve got a lot of games to look forward to.

“We know as a team whoever plays, the attacking players are going to cause problems for the opposition and the defence and midfielders are going to bring so much quality. As a squad, we’re so confident.”

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