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.”