Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned derby rivals Sunderland not to be taken in by the furore surrounding controversial midfielder Joey Barton.
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Barton found himself the centre of attention once again last weekend when he was stamped on by Arsenal midfielder Alex Song and then slapped by striker Gervinho.
Both Arsenal players will be suspended this weekend as they start three-match bans for their run-ins with Barton, who if blameless on the first occasion was guilty of getting involved where he did not need to on the second, and later expressed his feelings on the matter all too graphically via his Twitter account.
Despite the controversy, Pardew, who only included transfer-listed Barton in the team last Saturday after receiving assurances about his focus, will have no qualms about throwing him in once again at the Stadium of Light.
The manager said: "In a game-plan, it would get a mention, if I am honest. Joey has been in the press a fair bit this week - more than Joey would have liked and more than I would have liked - but the other thing they will be focusing on is he is a very good player, of course, and they need to stop him.
"Probably that is more of a worry to Steve [Bruce], I should think. The assurances I wanted from Joey were that he would be a team player here and do his normal job for the team, and that's what he did, and he was excellent on Saturday in terms of his performance.
"The incident which happened on the pitch was unfortunate and, again, he got a lot of criticism for that, but I couldn't have asked for more from Joey on the day."
Barton, who is out of contract at the end of this season, has been made available on a free transfer after voicing his frustration at the club's summer dealings.
Pardew has always been keen to retain his services, and although he hopes that will be the case, he knows nothing is certain.
He said: "It's put to bed as far as I am concerned, but football is football and that doesn't mean to say he is definitely going to be here for the season. You can never say that."
Pardew had hoped to have a replacement for left-back Jose Enrique, who finally joined Liverpool, and the striker he has been chasing all summer in place before the trip to Wearside.
However, the right-sided Ryan Taylor will almost certainly line up on the left of defence once again having played his part in the 0-0 draw against with Arsenal.
PSV Eindhoven's Erik Pieters and Lyon's Aly Cissokho have proved difficult to land, while a mooted loan deal for Manchester City's Wayne Bridge is yet to come to fruition.
Pardew said: "Everybody knows we need a left-back and it's being made difficult, not by us but by other clubs and we have to get over that. It could be that something gets done before the game, but I don't think I would include him even if it did because this game is a game you need to know about and you need to be prepared for."
Newcastle's pursuit of Sochaux frontman Modibo Maiga is similarly deadlocked with the player reportedly on strike as he attempts to force his way out of the club.
Pardew said: "There's a lot of stuff coming out about him being on strike and we can't condone that, but in terms of us, we have put a bid in for the player and he is a player that we want to bring to the club. That's where that is and negotiations are still ongoing."