columnist Rob Facey wonders whether it is the right decision to
unleash Joey Barton in Saturday's Tyne-Wear derby and asks whether this is the
sort of player who can save Newcastle's season?
Joey Barton is raring to go ahead of Saturday's Tyne-Wear
derby at Sunderland, but would it be wise for Joe Kinnear to unleash the
controversial midfielder in such an important game?
"I'm ready for action
physically," Barton said, as reported in the Telegraph.
"I'm fine and I can't
wait to get going again and playing for Newcastle United again.
"It's good to blow
away the cobwebs away sometimes. When you come back you feel a bit sluggish,
but I hope I'm back in the frame now."
Barton has been out of action for most of the season,
following 74 days in prison for assault and a six-match ban for attacking
former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo.
He played in a reserve fixture last night in a bid to
prove his fitness ahead of the weekend's game, but would it be wise to play
Barton in such a high-octane game?
Even Joe Kinnear has doubts about the logic in involving
Barton, whose last appearance in a Newcastle was a brief yet eventful cameo at
the Emirates in Kevin Keegan's last game.
"I'm going to sit
down with Joey and explain that to him, like you do with all players,"
"I've already had a
one-to-one with him. I've spoken to him about the importance of staying on the
pitch for the Sunderland match."
In a game as passionate as the Tyne-Wear derby, calm
heads are rarely found, but could Barton play a role for Newcastle?
Could this be the game where Barton redeems himself to
the Newcastle fans? Or, considering the state of the club at the moment is this
potential explosion best avoided by not involving the fiery midfielder?
Is Barton the sort of player Newcastle fans want to see wearing
the shirt at the moment?
Undoubtedly talented as well as passionate, but will this
alone be enough to guide the club to safety? Is he the sort of player that
could save their season? Or, is he a liability – the sort of player you don't
need when in times of crisis?