Barton's US visa dilemma
NEWCASTLE UNITED are having to put plans in place to apply for special dispensation that will allow Joey Barton to head out to the United States on their pre-season tour. The Magpies have been told to start to make moves now or risk not being able to take their key midfielder across the Atlantic in July. Most European Union citizens are eligible to enter the country under the Visa Waiver Program, but his previous criminal convictions means he is excluded from the scheme. It can be a drawn out process, with the US authorities often unwilling to given the go-ahead for convictions to be waived. Barton will be asked to captain Newcastle at Aston Villa on Sunday in the absence of Kevin Nolan. The midfielder's behaviour in recent months has been, according to manager Alan Pardew, exemplary and he was commended after his display in the win over Wolves last weekend. The 28-year-old has been working hard to curb the sort of temper which led to two convictions on charges of violence approaching two years ago. In May 2008 he was sentenced to six months imprisonment for common assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool's city centre and he served 77 days of that prison term. And then on July 28, 2008, he was also given a four months suspended sentence after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo. Newcastle hope to convince the player to sign a new contract on reduced terms in the summer. And yesterday his agent, Willie McKay, insisted progress could be made on his future soon. He said: Joey is happy at Newcastle and is happy to talk, we are not a million miles apart, it's about the length of the deal. Barton could soon have Hatem Ben Arfa back in the Newcastle team with him after his return to full training. Ben Arfa, who has been out of action since Nigel de Jong broke his leg in October, has still not forgot why his season long loan move to St James' Park soon turned sour. He said: In his (De Jong) text he told me he did not intend to hurt me and he was sorry. I told him it was OK, it was football. It was not even his fault, I think he can get away with anything if there are no sanctions. I do not want to come down on referees. But we still have to protect players a little more so if he wants to tackle like this again he will think twice. Ben Arfa signed a contract in January that will keep him on Tyneside until the summer of 2015 even though he had only played four games on loan from Marseille. He added: I want to do a lot for this club because they gave me great confidence. For a human being, that is huge, it touched me. Newcastle's reserves drew 1-1 at West Brom yesterday. Philip Airey struck an equaliser nine minutes after half-time. NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Alnwick; Nzuzi, Tavenier, Henderson, Folan; Richardson, Inman, McLaughlin (Meile 83), Donaldson; Airey, Taylor (Samuel Ameobi 65). Subs not used: Robinson (gk), Nicholson, Knight.
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