Alan Pardew happy for Joey Barton to speak out

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will not seek to gag outspoken midfielder Joey Barton after handing him the captain's armband.

The 28-year-old will lead the Magpies out at Aston Villa on Sunday in the absence of suspended skipper Kevin Nolan at the end of a week which has once again seen him hit the headlines.

Barton's brutally frank comments over his own England pedigree and, in his opinion, Gareth Barry's lack of one, the national team's chances of glory and his infamous clash with former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo, have made for interesting reading.

However, Pardew insists he did not think twice about asking a man who has had to be honest with himself over his off-the-field problems to take over from Nolan.

The manager said: "You have got to face your demons and deal with them, and he has done that.

"I can't say that I agree with all of Joey's opinions, but they are his opinions and he is strong enough to express them.

"That's Joey. That's his opinion and I am not going to change his opinions.

"He will be the captain on Sunday of this football club and I expect him to carry that armband on to the pitch with discipline and a normal performance from Joey, if not perhaps better than that because he has got the armband."

Barton has more than once voiced his own claim to be the best English midfielder on form in the country in recent months, although his catalogue of well-publicised misdemeanours has helped to limit his representative honours to just a single senior cap.

However, Pardew believes he is worthy of consideration for the form he has shown in helping his club to the brink of Barclays Premier League safety.

He said: "I couldn't disagree. In terms of performance, he was outstanding against Wolves again [last weekend] - he has been outstanding in most of the games since I have been manager and the games I have reviewed prior to me arriving.

"I can look at Scott Parker, and everybody thought it had passed him by and he wasn't going to get an England chance now, and then just last week, I was seeing our chief sportswriters telling me they are going to build the team around him and [Jack] Wilshere, so there's always an opportunity.

"Joey just needs to keep everything in place in terms of what he is doing right now, and then just hope he gets a call."

Newcastle will run out at Villa Park, where they were condemned to relegation two seasons ago much to the amusement of the home faithful, having reached 39 points with last Saturday's 4-1 mauling of Wolves at St James' Park.

Among their number will be several of the men who played that day, and while they gained a measure of revenge back in August when they thumped the Midlanders 6-0 on Tyneside, the memories of that pain remain fresh.

Pardew said: "You have to turn it into a positive. I didn't experience it, but I have experienced it at times in my career at other places, being at games and seeing that sort of behaviour, and it is going to fuel you.

"They were beaten heavily by us, so they will be fuelled, and we will be fuelled by what happened two years ago."

This time around, it is Villa who find themselves in trouble, although Pardew has warned his defenders to beware his former Charlton striker Darren Bent, despite the quiet afternoons he endured for Sunderland in the two derby encounters earlier this season.

He said: "That's dangerous with Darren. Part of my brief to my players is that Darren can look like he's not involved in the game and then suddenly get two goals in 10 minutes.

"You have got to concentrate 100 per cent playing against Darren Bent, and that's what my defenders are going to need to do."

Comments