FA charge Barton with violent conduct

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The Independent Football

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton is facing a three-match ban after being charged with violent conduct by the Football Association.

The 28-year-old has been landed with the charge for allegedly punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in the ribs during his side's 2-1 home defeat by Blackburn last night.

He has until 6pm tomorrow night to respond and if he admits the offence or is subsequently convicted of it, he will miss the Barclays Premier League games against Fulham, Bolton and champions Chelsea.

An FA statement read: "Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has today been charged with violent conduct by the FA following an incident in his side's fixture with Blackburn on Wednesday.

"Barton has until 6pm on Friday to reply to the charge and under the FA's fast-track regulations, may admit the charge and accept a standard three-match suspension."

Barton's misdemeanour came just minutes after Andy Carroll had dragged the home side back into the game to set up what they hoped would be a grandstand finish.

The former Manchester City player clashed with Pedersen out of the sight of referee Mike Jones. The Norwegian collapsed in a heap and received extensive treatment on the pitch, later remonstrating with Barton, who seemed surprised by his response.

Newcastle boss Chris Hughton did not see the incident but having viewed it, like Jones, on video afterwards, he said: "It's been overplayed because it's Joey.

"I am conscious he has reacted and he has raised his hands, that I am aware of and it would be silly of me to say anything else.

"But I certainly do think, if I look at the coverage it has got this morning, it is because it's Joey as opposed to anybody else."

Barton has been one of the club's most impressive players in recent weeks after putting his off-the-field problems behind him, and he will be a big miss as they attempt to address their worrying inability to cope with teams who arrive on Tyneside intent on preventing them playing.

That is exactly what Blackburn did last night to emerge victorious.

Pedersen's third-minute strike, which came gift-wrapped courtesy of a rare error from Cheik Tiote, gave them an early advantage as Sam Allardyce's men carried out his instructions to the letter.

Allardyce, of course, was sacked by Newcastle after just eight months back in January 2008 with his brand of football impressing neither owner Mike Ashley nor the fans among whom he sat for games in those days.

That relationship has changed radically during the ensuing years, but the former Bolton boss' philosophy has not, and his plan use the brute force of Christopher Samba, Ryan Nelsen and Gael Givet to counter Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi while at the same time strangling the supply lines with a 5-4-1 formation, proved hugely effective.

The Magpies looked vulnerable on the break as they committed ever more men to the search for space, although their equaliser came straight from the Allardyce armoury when Carroll met Barton's 47th-minute free-kick with a towering header at the far post.

But as they pressed for a winner, it was Blackburn who snatched victory eight minutes from time when substitute Jason Roberts got the better of Mike Williamson as the pair jumped for keeper Paul Robinson's punt down the middle and then slid a shot under goalkeeper Tim Krul.

For the third time this season, Newcastle had lost at home to opposition they might have expected to beat, and that is a trend which cannot be allowed to continue when Fulham head for the north-east on Saturday.

Full-back Danny Simpson said: "We have had a good few weeks up until last night and it is just a wake-up call.

"Anyone can beat anyone and we know that. We have to pick ourselves up and go into Saturday's game - we are at home and we need to take advantage of it.

Hughton's misery was compounded by the hamstring injury which forced Ameobi off at the break, although he could yet make Saturday's game.