Hughton tells Barton to stay focused

Striker Andy Carroll may have grabbed the headlines after Sunday’s
6-0 rout of Aston Villa, but it was 27-year-old midfield Barton who
started the ball rolling with a wonderful 12th-minute strike, and
his individual display was a key factor in the win. The current
campaign is the fourth since the controversial former Manchester
City man made his £5.8million switch to St James’ Park,
although injuries and his notorious spell behind bars have meant he
has rarely had the chance to show the ability on a sustained basis
which at one point won him and England call-up. However, having
missed out on much of the Magpies’ promotion drive last season and
the camaraderie which fuelled it, Barton appears to be desperate to
make up for lost time. Hughton, whose side head for npower League
Two Accrington Stanley in the Carling Cup second round on Wednesday
evening, said: “Joey is a good player, we have always known that.
“It’s just we have missed his services on the football pitch, which
has unfortunately not allowed him to play as many games as he would
have liked. “But a fit Joey Barton, we have always known, is a good
player. “What Joey has to do is go through a period of playing well
and doing what he is doing at the moment, letting his football do
the talking. “That’s always the best way with any player, and Joey
is certainly giving us good value.” Whether or not Barton gets a
chance to build upon his early-season form on Wednesday night
remains to be seen with Hughton ready to make wholesale changes
with one eye on Saturday’s league trip to Wolves. Top-flight
survival is the only priority this season and for that reason the
likes of Tim Krul, Tamas Kadar, Ryan Donaldson, Kazenga LuaLua,
Nile Ranger, Haris Vuckic, James Tavernier and Shane Ferguson could
all be involved. Hughton said: “It’s about trying to get the
balance right, trying to give the competition the respect it
deserves and even more importantly, Accrington Stanley the respect
they deserve. “But our main priority has got to be looking after
our own interests. “You want to win football matches – we found out
last season how winning football matches can lift confidence and
build team spirit. “We want to keep the momentum going, and that
means winning as many games as we can, getting as many good results
as we can and certainly, we want to come away from Accrington with
a win.” Carroll’s contribution against Villa means he too could be
kept in reserve after re-acquainting himself with the Premier
League in spectacular style. The 21-year-old has seen himself
touted as a potential England international since his heroics at
the weekend, but Hughton revealed he is remaining level-headed. He
said: “He is very, very aware that at this moment, he is quite big
news. “He is on the back of a hat-trick, he is a potential England
number nine, as we keep reading – but he is also aware that in the
position he plays, a good week one week can become a bad week the
next week. “But he will keep his feet firmly on the ground. The
most important thing for him is that he continues to perform for
Newcastle United, and he has started the season very well for us.”