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Page last updated at 21:37 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 22:37 UK

Barton set for Magpies comeback

Joey Barton is sent off against Liverpool
Barton has played for Newcastle 32 times in two years at St James' Park

Controversial Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton could make a surprise return for the Magpies in a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers on Saturday.

Barton's Newcastle career looked to be over after his sending off at Liverpool in May led to a dressing-room bust-up with caretaker manager Alan Shearer.

The 26-year-old was suspended but with Shearer's future at the club unclear, Barton has returned to training.

The former Manchester City player has been linked with a move to Birmingham.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is still trying to sell the club leaving the future of some players uncertain. Barton, who has played once for England, was a controversial figure at City before joining Newcastle for £5.8m in 2007.

He has started only 26 matches for the Tyneside club, with another six appearances off the bench.

In July last year, Barton received a four-month suspended sentence for assaulting Ousmane Dabo in a training-ground incident while both players were at City.

Barton was banned by the FA for 12 matches - six of which were suspended - and fined £25,000 after admitting a violent conduct charge in relation to the Dabo incident. He also spent two months in prison after admitting assault and affray.

The Craster Kipper

Earlier this month Barton said he wanted to stay at the club, but he conceded that if Shearer does return as manager then the decision could be out of his hands.

"I don't know what is going to happen with the club or with the manager situation," he said.

"I'm just looking forward to going back and my intention is to stay at the club and help Newcastle back into the Premier League.

"If Alan Shearer takes the job and if he doesn't want me then my hands are tied. All I can do is try and get as fit as possible, but I have got to prepare for all eventualities."

Meanwhile, Chris Hughton, who took the caretaker reigns back from Shearer at the end of last season, has been putting the Newcastle squad through pre-season training.

"I plan to use all the players here," said Hughton.

"I won't be looking to play anyone for 90 minutes. My main concern is not so much the performance, but getting through the 90 minutes with no injuries," he said.

"Each individual player has got to get something out of the game. If we have no injuries, we will be halfway there."

The Magpies get their Championship campaign underway against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on 8 August.

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see also
Bids meet Newcastle asking price
06 Jul 09 |  Newcastle
Magpies reveal warm-up fixtures
23 Jun 09 |  Newcastle
Birmingham seal Benitez signing
07 Jul 09 |  Birmingham
Barton hit by Magpies suspension
05 May 09 |  Newcastle
Barton 'stupidity' riles Shearer
04 May 09 |  Newcastle
Barton back for Newcastle run-in
19 Mar 09 |  Newcastle

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