Barton takes another step on comeback for Newcastle

Joey Barton is determined to play a part in Newcastle's charge back to the Premier League. The 27-year-old was in line for the second game of his comeback from foot surgery for the reserves at Hartlepool last night.

Barton said: "I just want to focus on playing football now. The team have done a great job this season, and so have Chris Hughton, Colin Calderwood and the rest of the back-room lads. Now I just want to get back and play a part in helping this team back into the Premier League."

Barton will play no part in the Magpies' Championship game with Scunthorpe tonight, but manager Hughton will be happy to see him back once he is fully fit. He said: "What we have to be mindful of is that this is a player that has been out for a long period of time and what he needs is to get enough match practice under his belt. To get a fit and ready Joey Barton back in the squad is a plus for us. Whatever contribution he can make, however many games that is, then it will be very welcome."

Barton has not played for the first team since limping off during the 3-1 Championship victory over Plymouth on 19 September. However, he is keen finally to show the fans what he can do on a sustained basis. He said: "The fans have been brilliant and as players we just want to help deliver Premier League football back to them. It's still a big club and that's one of the reasons I came here. The fans have been great with me and now I just want to do the business on the pitch again."