Joey Barton could play tonight as Marseille look to move on from 'ladyboy' incident

English midfielder tweeted abuse about Thiago Silva

Joey Barton could return to Marseille's starting line-up this evening as the club looks to move on from the controversy of the midfielder's latest Twitter outburst.

Barton has created a stir in France this week after labelling Paris St Germain midfielder Thiago Silva an "overweight ladyboy" on the social networking site.

The accusations have prompted strong condemnation from PSG as well as a prominent anti-homophobia group based in the French capital.

Reports in France have also claimed that Barton has been summonsed to explain his actions at a French Football Federation's ethics committee hearing on April 15.

Barton wrote a series of Twitter messages, in which he went as far as questioning whether Silva was "pre-op or post-op".

Marseille responded with a statement revealing they had demanded Barton cease his attack on Silva as well as offering an apology from both the club and player for the "inappropriate comments".

But the club now appear intent on moving on from the incident with Barton named in a 17-man squad to meet Bordeaux in a crucial match in their title bid at the Stade Velodrome tonight.

Barton could even start after fellow midfielder Mathieu Valbuena was yesterday ruled out for 10-12 days with an adductor injury, with second-placed OM looking to cut the seven-point gap behind PSG.

Ahead of tonight's game coach Elie Baup said Barton, who is on a season-long loan from QPR, remained a key part of his plans - despite the threat of an FFF sanction now hanging over his head.

"What is important to me is the communication from the club," Baup said at the pre-match press conference.

"I am the coach of OM and I have to intervene (only) on larger matters. The communication of individual players is their own responsibility.

"I have a boss and a direction. Barton holds an important place in the team and I make decisions in the game - for example, that he (Barton) did not start against Nice (last weekend). That is my responsibility. Beyond that, it does not concern me."

Barton's outburst apparently stemmed from comments made by Silva ahead of PSG's Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, when there was an oblique reference to Barton.

Silva spoke of an English Marseille player whose name he claimed to have forgotten, that had taken to criticising big-name players, including David Beckham, because nobody was talking about him.

Barton made his initial "overweight ladyboy" remark following PSG's 2-2 draw with Barcelona, and on Wednesday morning added: "2 questions for Thiago Silva. Firstly, Why are YOU talking about ME, in your press conference before PSG v Barca? Very strange.

"Secondly, Are you Pre-Op or Post-Op? £transsexual £thiagosaladyboy.

"Baffles me, which way he's going. Is he a man changing to a woman or a woman changing to a man? Can't work it out."

The anti-homophobia group Paris Foot Gay said they had discussed Barton's comments with French league chiefs, and that they had been told he would be reported to the FFF's national ethical council.

Paris Foot Gay said Barton's comments were "without doubt based on the stereotype linking Brazil to transsexualism".

Silva's club were quick to defend their player as PSG expressed their unhappiness with Barton's "unacceptable remarks". The Ligue 1 leaders warned they could take action, which they did not specify, against the former England international.

PA

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