It’s going to be a while before Joey Barton appears again for Newcastle United, and Kevin Keegan thinks it’s at least 4-5 weeks.
Â Joey Barton – 4/5 weeks away from full fitness
Joey could well get an FA ban of considerable length, and he will be at a hearing next Wednesday to face charges of violent conduct for his attack on his then Manchester City team-mate, Ousmane Dabo.
The likely suspension being mentioned in the press is for 15 games, and it may even be that Newcastle ban the player, although that would seem unlikely now.
Barton only returned to training last week on Wednesday, and despite his agent Willie McKay saying he was very fit, that’s not the case, as it’s difficult to keep fit when you are serving time in jail.
Manager Kevin Keegan said today:
â€œJoeyâ€™s fine but he wonâ€™t be featuring in any games until we get him match fit,â€ â€œHe came back in for training last Wednesday as we flew out to Mallorca.”“There is no way he can regain match fitness between now and the start of the season August 17.”
â€œThereâ€™s no way it would be sensible to give him a game at the moment. Obviously, with the injuries weâ€™ve got you could throw him into a friendly like the PSV game but that would be crazy because heâ€™s got to get match fit.â€
â€œNormally you need a month to five weeks to get match fit and thatâ€™s why we bring the players back for pre-season training five weeks before the start of the season and then play some games,â€
â€œThe hard part for the people like Joey and the lads who have been injured is the games have gone now and you almost have to do it all in training.”
â€œIt can be done because you can have practice games yourselves and simulate friendlies like the PSV game but it doesnâ€™t matter how hard they work on their fitness, however fit they are, when it comes to playing in their first real game you think to yourself â€“ as Habib Beye said on Wednesday â€“ â€˜Iâ€™m emptyâ€™. Matches get you fit.â€
â€œJoey has been working very hard on a fitness programme and is just getting his head down, which is what he has done ever since I came back into this club,â€
â€œHis training and everything, his attitude has been excellent while Iâ€™ve been at this club. Iâ€™ve spoken to him and know he just wants to get back to playing football â€“ itâ€™s as simple as that. â€œ
While we’re sure that Kevin and the Newcastle hierarchy would love the Joey Barton affair just to blow over, it doesn’t look like it will, and it looks like the FA will take action.
He’s likely to be banned next week, and then we’ll have to see when he can play again, but at least when he does, he should be really physically fit.
The main thing of course is to get Barton mentally fit, and get him some serious treatment on his anger, which has got him into so much trouble in his short life, so far.
If this story is going to turn out to be a success for the Newcastle club and for Barton himself, he cannot make one more mistake, because if he does, it really will be all over.