Barton put to the test against former club

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The Independent Football

Joey Barton will return to action for the reserves against his former club Manchester City tonight.

The Newcastle midfielder, 25, who joined the Magpies in a £5.8m summer move from City, will make his comeback from a fractured metatarsal at the Regional Athletics Arena, close to the City of Manchester Stadium.

Barton's inclusion in a strong second-string side came after his manager Sam Allardyce ruled him out of first-team action for another month. The England international said last week he was targeting Sunday's Premier League visit of Everton for his return. But Allardyce said, "Joey Barton has got no chance for Everton on Sunday. It will be four or five weeks, or at least three or four reserve team games."

The West Ham manager, Alan Curbishley, is cautiously optimistic about Craig Bellamy's most recent injury, a groin problem incurred in training.

"He trained last Thursday and Friday perfectly, then felt sore again, so we've had to pull him out again," Curbishley said. "We have some thinking to do about the injury. We don't think it is particularly serious but we have to get to the bottom of it."