Wednesday Is D-Day For Barton!

Last updated : 09 August 2008 By Footy Mad - Editor
Even if he is NOT banned, Kevin Keegan has told Newcastle United fans it will be "four or five weeks" before they see Barton in action.

Barton's preparations for the new season have had to take place on the exercise yard at Strangeways Prison after the midfielder served half of a six-month sentence for another offence.

Keegan: "Joey's fine but he won't be featuring in any games until we get him match fit.

"He came back in for training last Wednesday as we flew out to Mallorca. There is no way he can regain match fitness between now and the start of the season.

"There's no way it would be sensible to give him a game at the moment. Obviously, with the injuries we've got you could throw him into a friendly like but that would be crazy because he's got to get match fit.

"Normally you need a month to five weeks to get match fit and that's why we bring the players back for pre-season training five weeks before (the start of the season) and then play some games.

"The hard part for the people like Joey and the lads who have been injured is the games have gone now and you almost have to do it all in training.

"It can be done because you can have practice games yourselves and simulate friendlies like the PSV game but it doesn't matter how hard they work on their fitness, however fit they are, when it comes to playing in their first real game you think to yourself - as Habib Beye said on Wednesday - 'I'm empty'. Matches get you fit.

"Joey has been working very hard on a fitness programme and is just getting his head down, which is what he has done ever since I came back into this club.

"His training and everything, his attitude has been excellent while I've been at this club. I've spoken to him and know he just wants to get back to playing football - it's as simple as that. "