Big Sam backs Barton to deliver

NEWCASTLE boss Sam Allardyce is backing summer signing Joey Barton to thrive on Tyneside after finally tasting the atmosphere which took him to St James’ Park.

The 25-year-old midfielder, a £5.8million acquisition from Manchester City, had to wait until 71 minutes into Monday night’s Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham for his competitive debut for the club after fracturing a metatarsal in pre-season.

Barton arrived at Newcastle by his own admission carrying unwanted baggage, and recently found himself, perhaps unfairly, cast as the villain in a club v country row.

However, as he emerged from the dug-out on Monday to replace the tiring Emre, he was left in little doubt as to where he stands in the affections of the Toon Army despite never having kicked a ball in anger in a black and white shirt

Allardyce said: “That reception is why he came here.

“It’s a tremendous lift for any player to walk out on the pitch and get a massive cheer which makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

“We were just losing our heads a little bit when he came on, and Emre was tiring a little bit. It was a good change-over tactically. It was good to see him back, and I hope he goes a long time before anything like that happens to him again.”

Barton arrived with the game on a knife-edge with Spurs threatening to stage another unlikely fightback.

However, within two minutes, fellow newcomer James Milner had wrapped up the points to take the Magpies to within a point of seventh-placed Chelsea and leave the Londoners entangled in the bottom three as their six-game unbeaten run came to an end.

Newcastle have collected 17 points from their first nine games of the season and are intent on making that 20 at Reading at the weekend to cap their best start to a campaign for a decade.

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