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Influential nib Newcastle Knights forward Mitch Barnett said he was a little shocked to be named back in the team much earlier than expected.

The 23-year-old injured his ankle in Round 8’s encounter with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Although he was cleared from requiring surgery, Barnett was expected to spend six weeks on the sidelines but was this week named on the bench for the Knights clash with the Penrith Panthers.

“I was a little bit shocked he (Nathan Brown) named me straight back in, I haven’t spoken to him about playing yet,” Barnett said.

“It has given me a lot of confidence he has shown some faith in me.

“I want to repay him and repay the boys by putting in a good performance and taking my opportunity.”

The Knights forward admits luck was on his side.

“I prepared for the worst, they told me I’d have to get scans,” said Barnett.

“I went and saw a surgeon and he said he wouldn’t operate on it which was good and we got a couple of other opinions and they all said you’ll be right.

“We treated it aggressively and got me to where I am now.”

He also put in the hard yards with intensive physiotherapy to strengthen his ankle.

“I would come in early and try and keep my conditioning up through upper body cardio,” Barnett explained.