For a player who spent only ten-and-a-half months at Molineux and left more than five years ago, it is not instantly apparent why Ade Akinbiyi still commands so much attention in Wolverhampton Wanderers' circles.

Then again, this is no ordinary Wolves old boy who returns to Molineux tonight bidding to help Burnley cause a Championship upset.

Akinbiyi (right) played an eventful, fundamental, part in Wolves? recent history, from his arrival in September 1999 to well beyond his departure.

He remains the club?s record signing at the #3.5 million Colin Lee paid to bring him from Bristol City. The controversy surrounding his #5 million sale to then free-spending Leicester City in July 2000 was the direct cause of the sacking of Lee, who went too public with his repeated denial to the Wolves board?s suggestion that he had sanctioned it.

While Akinbiyi?s coming and going caused a stir, what went on in between also sparked headlines.

He scored 16 goals in his one term at Molineux, two inside a month in both that season?s derbies against West Bromwich Albion but an ugly incident resulted in his being sent off against Nottingham Forest.

Many believe, unlike Lee, that Wolves were

entirely right to cash in and get such a good return on their investment when they moved him on so quickly.

Akinbiyi, now at his tenth professional club, said: ?I can?t believe it?s been as long as five years since I left and I can?t believe I was there less than a season. A lot happened in a short space of time but I still look back at my time there with affection.

?I still have three very good mates in the dressing-room, Matt Murray, George Ndah and Joleon Lescott, and we talk all the time.? Akinbiyi?s battle with Lescott tonight holds the key to the entire contest.

Clarets manager Steve Cotterill opted to play him on his own against Ipswich Town on Tuesday night. Supported by his midfield, Akinbiyi ran riot, doing everything but score as his side ended a seven-game winless streak by winning 3-0.

When Akinbiyi is on his game, as he proved on the last occasion he played against Wolves in helping to set up a 2-1 win for Stoke City in last term?s season-opener, he is still a handful. But Lescott did not play that day because of injury and having so far had the better of his old mate, he will be keen to ensure that Akinbiyi?s goal return in three games against Wolves since he left remains stuck on zero.

Akinbiyi faces a team he has already picked out as the promotion favourites, saying: ?They should be in the Premiership. They have the ground and the team again. You can see what an effect Glenn Hoddle has had since he arrived, even last season when they went on that long unbeaten run and, even just from seeing them on television, you can tell that this time they?ve got it right.?

Burnley ? s on-loan Wolves defender Keith Lowe is ineligible tonight.