Thomas Frank confirmed Ivan Toney will captain Brentford against Nottingham Forest on Saturday in his first game back after his eight-month suspension.
The 27-year-old has not played competitively since being banned in May for breaching Football Association gambling rules.
He was permitted to return to training with his team-mates in September and has played in a number of behind-closed-doors friendlies in the run-up to becoming available again.
With the team dealing with a number of absences both through injury and international call-ups, Frank said Toney will wear the armband against Forest, with regular skipper Christian Norgaard amongst those missing.
The manager said he is confident that Toney is ready to play 90 minutes despite having been out for 259 days.
“He’s buzzing,” said Frank. “He’s like an eight-year-old boy that just wants to go out and play maybe his first football game. That pure joy of playing football.
“I’m looking into the eyes of a player that is very committed, very excited and can’t wait.
“I can break it now: he will start tomorrow and he will also lead the team out of the tunnel. He will be the captain because Christian is injured.
“I think he is ready (for 90 minutes). There will be extra adrenaline in him, extra excitement. He will run around like he’s never run around before.
“He is very fit, he’s played in-house games and played 90 minutes.”
Toney was the team’s top scorer last season with 20 Premier League goals, making his England debut in March during a European Championship qualifying win against Ukraine at Wembley.
He was first charged with 262 breaches of FA betting regulations in November 2022 and revived his suspension in May after admitting to 232 of the offences.
He has since been diagnosed with a gambling addiction, as was revealed in the FA’s written explanation for the length and severity of the punishment.
Brentford said at the time they would offer the player whatever support was necessary during the course of his suspension.
“He’s a special character,” said Frank, whose team are on a run of five consecutive league defeats. “He’s a fantastic person to be around. The energy he brings, the smile and positivity, is a massive thing. On the pitch he drags people, he wants to win. It’s a massive boost. It’s like a new signing.
“There’s an argument that he is maybe the second-best striker in the Premier League right now, in my opinion. He needs to prove it again, it’s the same with any player.”
Reports have linked Toney with a move away from the Gtech Stadium during the January transfer window, with Arsenal and Chelsea touted as possible destinations.
However, Frank said that the club have received no formal offers and that he expects the striker to stay for the remainder of the season at least.
“It’s 99 point something that he will stay here,” he said. “But football is crazy, you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. He’s very committed to being here. I spoke with him yesterday about it, it’s the only thing on his mind.
“We just have that point zero something number craziness in football that you can’t rule out.
“We are committed to each other. The club is committed to Ivan and the other way around.”