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No second best from Barton: Lee

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NEWCASTLE UNITED coach Lee Clark has paid tribute to Joey Barton ahead of his comeback game for the second string tonight at his old club Manchester City.


United’s reserve team will feature Barton, Spanish full-back Jose Enrique, Turkish ace Emre and Senegal international Abdoulaye Faye, who are all short of match practice.


Barton’s last slice of action came at Brunton Park back in July when the player fractured his metatarsal during the 1-1 draw with Carlisle United.


Since then Barton has been steadily working his way back to fitness and, despite the fact he hasn’t been on the field, his commitment to the black-and-white cause has been second to none.


For Barton has not only travelled to the majority of United’s away trips this season but has also been present at reserve team games to encourage the club’s youngsters, and he even returned to Carlisle on a scouting mission with Geordie favourite Clark and Terry McDermott.


Clark told the Chronicle: “I’ve got no qualms about Joey – he is one of the most driven and motivated members of the squad.


“Sometimes in reserve team football, managers have a problem getting senior players to give their best in the reserves, but that isn’t the case for me tonight, and I have no worries that the group I have will do the job for me and set a good example.


“With Joey it is important to get him through the game because it is such an important stage for him after injury.


“He has progressed so quickly and the reserves is the last stop before making his return to the first team, so this is huge for him.”


United reserves went down 2-0 in their last game against a strong Middlesbrough side which featured several senior players.


And even though Newcastle tasted defeat on the night, Clark was still happy with the commitment and desire from his Toon kids.


Tonight, though, is different. Clark said: “We have a few senior players in the side and the last time that happened was at Boro last season.


“That night we won 5-1 so I would be delighted with the same type of performance and result against Man City tonight.


“I know that the senior players don’t really want to be in the reserves, they want to be in the first team. But I know that with the group we have travelling tonight, they will set a good example to our youngsters.”


City’s second string could feature Ousmane Dabo, who was involved in an alleged training-ground bust-up with Barton last season, with the Citizens expected to name an otherwise young team.


The match kicks off at 7pm at Sport City, which is in the shadow of the City of Manchester Stadium at the Eastlands complex.


Newcastle’s next home game will be next Monday at Kingston Park against Wigan (7pm).


UNITED: Forster, Bertram, Enrique, Faye, Edgar, Emre, Pattison, Barton, Troisi, Godsmark, Danquah. Subs: Cook, Lough, Morris, LuaLua, Doninger.

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