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Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 08:16 UK

Keegan will support Barton - Lee

Joey Barton

By Nabil Hassan

Jailed Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton is likely to receive the support of manager Kevin Keegan, according to former Magpies legend Robert Lee.

Barton was sent to prison on Tuesday for assault and affray and has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The 25-year-old England international faces an uncertain future with the club considering the verdict.

"I think some clubs would sack Joey, but I think Kevin Keegan will back him," Lee told BBC Sport.

Lee knows all about Newcastle United and manager Kevin Keegan having played under him in the 90s, making 303 appearances in a 10-year career at St James' Park.

Barton arrived at Newcastle in June 2007 having been signed by previous manager Sam Allardyce for 5.8m from Manchester City.

I hope that this can prove a catalyst in both Joey Barton's life and football career

PFA boss Gordon Taylor

The Liverpudlian has had a chequered career and the incident on 27 December that led to him being jailed was not the first time he has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

In December 2004 he stubbed a cigar into eye of former team-mate Jamie Tandy at Manchester City's Christmas party and was fined six weeks' wages.

Less than a year later in July 2005 he had an altercation with a teenage fan during Manchester City's tour of Asia and was fined eight weeks' wages.

In September 2006 he dropped his shorts in the direction of Everton fans during a Manchester City game and was questioned by police, who eventually took no action.

And his latest incident which saw him punch one man 20 times before attacking a teenage boy leaving him with broken teeth, resulted in Barton being jailed.

"He has been in trouble before and this isn't the first time he's hit the headlines so it'll be interesting to see what happens," said Lee.

"I think Keegan will stand by him purely for the fact the incident happened before he was appointed manager.

"Kevin is very loyal, but I think had this happened under his management then it would be a different situation."

Barton recently earned praise from Keegan for his Newcastle performances as the 25-year-old midfielder began to justify his transfer fee.

"We haven't seen the best of Joey Barton at Newcastle," said Lee.

"I felt over the last eight or nine games he was getting back to his best. He always had this hanging over him, and it is a major blow for him and for Newcastle.

"If it was up to me I would try and help him.

"Obviously there are some people that don't want to be helped and some that do so it is up to Joey really, though some people will say that he's had enough chances."

And Lee advised Barton to think long and hard about his lifestyle while he served his prison sentence.

"This will be his last chance because he needs to realise that he is in a profession where it is a great life but you do get people that when you go out want to take a pop at you," said Lee.

Joey Barton
Barton signed for Newcastle in June 2007 from Manchester City

Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor said he hoped the incident would prove to be a turning point in Barton's life.

"I hope that this can prove a catalyst in both Joey Barton's life and football career," Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He does have ability but he does have demons with regard to alcohol and anger management and from that point of view we don't intend to let go, but of course it is down to the individual.

"I hope this can make him realise that this is deadly serious and he's in danger of ruining a life when he's had ability to make something of it."

Tony Adams, Jermaine Pennant, Duncan Ferguson and Lee Hughes are other footballers who have bent sent to prison, but have resumed playing after their release.

Adams was jailed for two months at Chelmsford Open Prison in 1990 for drink-driving offences but the incident proved to be a turning point for the former Arsenal defender and current Portsmout assistant manager.

Adams helped set up the Sporting Chance clinic with Peter Kay to support sport stars deal with drink, drug and gambling addictions.

If someone is true and wants help and there aim is to become a better person then we will be there for them

Peter Kay - Sporting Chance

Barton was a Sporting Chance client and Kay, who is the charity's chief executive, has promised to continue supporting Barton after his release from prison later this year.

"He has to be judged by his actions and not his intentions and unfortunately his actions on that particular night let him down," said Kay.

"Whenever anyone holds out their hands we will be there to help. The work we do is not particularly fashionable but we will always be there for them.

"We took some flak for supporting Joey, but if someone is true and wants help and their aim is to become a better person then we will be there for them."

see also
Keegan hails Barton re-emergence
07 Apr 08 |  Newcastle United
Keegan welcomes change in Barton
01 Feb 08 |  Newcastle United
Keegan hoping for Barton response
30 Jan 08 |  Newcastle United
Lawyers check if Barton can play
04 Jan 08 |  Merseyside
Barton back training at Newcastle
15 Jan 08 |  Newcastle United
Newcastle fans vicious - Barton
01 Dec 07 |  Newcastle United
Footballer in court over assault
12 Mar 08 |  Merseyside
Fan struck by football star's car
05 May 05 |  Merseyside
Barton is fined over hotel fracas
27 Jul 05 |  Man City
Man City fine Barton for incident
23 Dec 04 |  Man City

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