Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned derby rivals Sunderland not to be taken in by the furore surrounding controversial midfielder Joey Barton.
The 28-year-old midfielder found himself the centre of attention once again last weekend when he was stamped on by Arsenal midfielder Alex Song and then slapped by striker Gervinho. Both Gunners men will be suspended this weekend as they start three-match bans for their run-ins with the former Manchester City man.
But Pardew will have no qualms about throwing him in once again at the Stadium of Light and said: "Joey has been in the press a fair bit this week - more than Joey would have liked and more than I would have liked - but the other thing they will be focussing on is he is a very good player, and they need to stop him."
He added: "Probably that is more of a worry to [Sunderland manager] Steve [Bruce], I should think.
"The assurances I wanted from Joey were that he would be a team player here and do his normal job for the team, and that's what he did, and he was excellent on Saturday in terms of his performance.
"The incident which happened on the pitch was unfortunate and again, he got a lot of criticism for that, but I couldn't have asked for more from Joey on the day."
Barton, who is out of contract at the end of this season, has been made available on a free transfer after voicing his frustration at the club's summer dealings on Twitter.
Pardew has always been keen to retain his services, and although he hopes that will be the case, he knows nothing is certain.
He said: "It's put to bed as far as I am concerned, but football is football and that doesn't mean to say he is definitely going to be here for the season. You can never say that."