Hughes - I could drop Barton

Rangers boss backs midfielder's Twitter outburst

Joey Barton: Boss Mark Hughes insists the captain is by no means protected in terms of his team selection

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Mark Hughes has warned that even though Joey Barton is QPR skipper, it does not guarantee him a place in the starting line-up.

The outspoken midfielder was replaced by Jamie Mackie before the striker scored his last-gasp winner to finish a startling comeback against Liverpool in midweek.

Hughes must now decide whether to stick with the final 11 of that game at Loftus Road or reintroduce the Rs captain at Sunderland.

"Will the decision to drop Barton be more difficult because he is captain? Not really," the Ranger boss said.

"Will the decision to drop Barton be more difficult because he is captain? Not really."

Mark Hughes

Quotes of the week

"I pick teams I feel will win Premier League matches. I don't base my selections on individual personalities.

"It is about the make-up of the team.

"Irrespective of your standing in the squad, you still have to perform."

Booing

Tough-tackling Barton has been known to make his feelings heard via social networking site Twitter, and this week was no exception as the 29-year-old slammed fans for booing him as he came off on Wednesday night.

But a relaxed Hughes was not too concerned about his skipper's method of response and praised Barton for reacting well to the criticism.

"There was some criticism of Joey and maybe a little bit of frustration with the situation - and Joey bore the brunt of it. He's big enough to take that on his shoulders," he said.

"He will comment on any aspect of life and he will open himself to criticism because he gives people a platform to interact with him.

"He's able to cope with that. Someone with a less strong character would possibly be affected by criticism but Joey doesn't seem to be.

"I made the change because Joey wasn't having the best of evenings.

Delighted

"We came through it and you saw Joey's reaction after the game. He was delighted for the boys and everyone is together."

Shaun Wright-Phillips was rested for the Liverpool match following a dip in form but Hughes has hinted that Barton will not let a bad game affect his next performance.

"Some players at times need to be taken out of the fray and given time to recuperate," said Hughes.

"You see them going into their shell, being introverted and not dealing with poor form particularly well.

"I wouldn't think that applies to Joey."