Keegan Concerned How Fans Treat Barton!

Last updated : 28 January 2008 By Footy Mad - Editor

And Kevin Keegan is so concerned how opposing supporters will react to his appearance, the controversial signing may have to wait until March 22 for a return to action. 

The United manager hinted the 25-year-old will not be considered for selection until his off-field problems have been resolved.

Keegan: "Joey's desperate to be involved as you would imagine - I'd be disappointed if he wasn't - but it has to be the right time and the right place.

"I had the option and I could have played him. But I don't think it would have been right for him or for the other players.

"I'd like it to be a home game so we can control the environment around us a little bit more - he understands that.

"In his mind, I think he hoped I'd say 'Come and play at Arsenal'. But I think he knew I would not do that to the other players. I wouldn't do it if he was in the team and it was someone else taking his place."

Barton was arrested on December 27, and has since been charged with assault and affray. The bail conditions imposed on the Liverpudlian do not prevent him from playing in the Premier League, although the logistics make it all but impossible.

The midfielder is subject to a curfew that means he has to be at the Sporting Chance clinic in Hampshire by 7pm.