Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Barton Will Get Another Chance; Keegan Stands by Jailed Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Barton Will Get Another Chance; Keegan Stands by Jailed Star

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

KEVIN Keegan has confirmed Joey Barton will not be sacked by Newcastle United when he is released from prison next month despite pleading guilty to two assault charges over the summer.

Barton is expected to be released from Manchester's Strangeways prison in two or three weeks' time after he was jailed for assaulting two people in a drunken rage last December. During his time behind bars, Barton has also received a four-month sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in a training ground incident last year.

However, as revealed by The Journal in May, Keegan intends to stand by the controversial midfielder and offer him yet another chance to rebuild his career with the Magpies, even though it will not be a universally-popular decision.

"Joey will be back towards the end of this month," said Keegan, who from a purely football point of view cannot afford to weaken his first-team squad by losing a player who finished his first season at St James's Park strongly. "Obviously, it's well documented that he's had problems, but I knew about those problems at the time I took over. We didn't know what would happen to him (in the court cases). But I told him that as long as from here to then, while he was with us, he did things right and started to rebuild the confidence of everyone around him - which he had to do - I would stick by him.

"The Joey Barton we had for the last two months of the season was a changed character. I know a lot of people have opinions and you've got to respect those, but mine is to give him another chance and certainly back him. He's served his sentence and been punished for what he did wrong and the world is littered with people who have deserved a second chance, got that chance and taken it with both hands. …

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