Kinnear claims Barton can revive Newcastle

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The Independent Online

As the drama at Newcastle United unfolds and twists, there were denials of interest from significant South Africans yesterday around the time that another of their alleged company was stating that Kevin Keegan has been met in person with a view to returning as manager once a takeover is completed. Throw in Joe Kinnear's comments about how he was looking forward to the return of Joey Barton and it is another average day at St James' Park.

"We need somebody to be ranting and screaming information," Kinnear said. "We don't have that at the moment. I imagine when Joey Barton comes back that might change. He's a chirpy lad with things to say and he might improve things on the communication front. Joey Barton is very infectious, just like Danny Guthrie. They whizz in and out. Nicky Butt is the same and we have some really good characters in the dressing room."

Barton is unavailable for selection because of his Football Association ban following his prison sentence for the assault on then-Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo. But he returns this month, possibly at Sunderland, and like Keegan before him, Kinnear is keen for that to happen.

"He's OK, he's fine," Kinnear said of Barton. "I'm not going to repeat conversations in private but he's been OK. To be fair, all the players have been responsible, I've got the highest respect for them. But the communication hasn't been good – that's the key area where we've got to improve."

The senior players have complained about a lack of information, feeling they have been deprived of any high-ranking club contact since Keegan stormed out of the club last month and Mike Ashley's decision to put it up for sale. Kinnear has remedied that to an extent but there has been no update of where the club is in terms of a sale.

Seymour Pierce, the investment bank commissioned by Ashley to sell Newcastle, privately admit that there has been contact with Jonathan Cleland, who has been speaking for the South African consortium. But Seymour Pierce says no formal bid has been received and elsewhere Cleland's credibility is waning. His revelation yesterday that he met with Keegan on Monday night is not expected to play well with Keegan.

Cleland said on Wednesday that "now is the time to reveal who we are," but 48 hours after doing so there were denials of involvement in Newcastle from Johann Rupert and Vivian Imerman. It leaves the takeover situation as unclear as previously, meaning Kinnear leads his new charges at Everton tomorrow with uncertainty remaining as to the future of the club. A first win, or point, at Goodison in five visits would lift the morale and Guthrie's return from suspension gives Kinnear some added energy in midfield.

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