Hughton relishing Barton return

Toon boss wants a fully-fit Barton back for new campaign

Barton: Boost for Toon

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Newcastle manager Chris Hughton is looking forward to having a fully-fit Joey Barton back in the side ahead of the new Premier League season.

The Magpies boss believes having the midfield enforcer back in the side will prove to be a major boost as the Toon prepare for the season opener against Manchester United.

Merseysider Barton spent much of last season recovering from foot surgery and made just 15 appearances for Hughton's side in the closing stages of the Championship title-winning campaign, only making his comeback in late March against Doncaster.

The 27-year-old will jostle with Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith and Danny Guthrie for a spot in the black and whites' engine room as he prepares to start pre-season on 5th July.

Hughton told the Evening Chronicle: "For us it will be a bit like having a new player, we hope. There has never been a question mark over Joey's ability, just his ability to be on the football pitch.

"We are looking forward to Joey coming back fresh and strong."

The Toon boss just wants to see Barton recapture the form he displayed during his time with Manchester City.

Hughton added: "The biggest problem we have had with Joey is the fact we have not been able to put him on the pitch enough.

"After this summer's pre-season work, he more than anybody will be looking forward to the new season.

"He will be looking for a good pre-season and the opportunity to play regular football."

The midfielder has been praised for showing a new level of maturity and encouraging the younger players in the squad towards the end of last season.

"They are not things you usually associate with Joey!," admitted Hughton.

"For him it has been frustrating, as with every player they want to be playing football.

"He has missed an awful lot of football. It will be a happy period for him to get the boots back on.

"He did not have the involvement he would have liked last season, but he accepted there were players in the squad who had played a much bigger part than him.

"They warranted the opportunity to finish the season."