Barton visit on the cards as Allardyce keeps faith

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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce spoke to Joey Barton yesterday and received an apology from the 25-year-old for the negative publicity caused to Newcastle United by Barton's arrest in Liverpool last week. Allardyce's plan, once tomorrow's FA Cup tie at Stoke City is over, is to visit Barton in the Hampshire clinic where the midfielder is staying as one of the alleged conditions of his bail.

Allardyce does not know when he might have Barton available again as a Newcastle United footballer but the 25-year- old will not be appearing at Stoke.

"I spoke to him today to just find out from him and his solicitors what can and can't be done from our point of view," Allardyce said. "It was not too long a conversation. He's relieved he's out of the holding place in Walton, he's pleased to be out. He's got to really concern himself about the case and sort that out."

Some might express surprise that Allardyce should be thinking this far ahead given the speculation regarding his job. But when asked if he sensed movement from above should Newcastle lose at Stoke, Allardyce replied: "One never knows, but I can't see any indication [of that] from Mike [Ashley] or Chris [Mort]."

The board's willingness to sign Manchester United's Wes Brown is in itself being interpreted as a symbol of support for Allardyce and that effort is ongoing. "That would be a massive boost for everybody here," Allardyce said of possibly getting Brown, "somebody we hope can hit the ground running." Allardyce knows he needs his existing players to do so at Stoke. Michael Owen's return to the starting XI should help.

"Second year in at Bolton, we spent three months in the bottom three," Allardyce said. "That was difficult... So I've experienced it [pressure] but not as great as it is now. Being judged after seven months is unfair from my point of view."

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