Newcastle manager Alan Shearer to study Joey Barton behaviour
As he prepared for what he billed as the biggest game of his life, Shearer briefly broke his silence on Barton's punishment today which was imposed after the pair were involved in a heated row at Anfield. The flare-up occurred after the midfielder was banned for the rest of the season, when he was sent off for a crude challenge on Xabi Alonso, and the duo were involved in a furious row that saw Shearer's No 2 Iain Dowie also feel the force of Barton's tongue. Related ArticlesGive Barton a breakShearer policy backedSavage a breath of fresh airKay: Barton needs to grow upNewcastle and Kevin Keegan scout for qualityNewcastle supporters back Alan Shearer as club suspend Joey Barton"Joey has been suspended until further notice," Shearer said, as he spoke ahead of Monday night's crunch game with relegation rivals Middlesbrough. "The club wants to look at a few things and they will make another statement or comment when the time is right. "But other than that, I think there are far more important things to talk about than what has gone on this week." Both Newcastle and their Teesside rivals are currently three points adrift of safety, and Shearer is refusing to allow Barton or anything else to deflect attention away from the task at hand. Shearer, who said he was "enjoying the challenges that have been coming my way and there have been a few", is now focusing on the North-East derby. He added: "Winning would give everyone a huge lift confidence-wise but I believe we can do that. I have seen enough from my players to know that we can win if we go into it and create chances like we did in our previous home game. "The mood around the place has been good, and despite the result on Sunday, training has been fine and I have been encouraged. I have confidence in my squad. Results keep going for us elsewhere. We are all still in there and we will be fighting right to the very end." Shearer also defended his decision to hit players in the pocket in a bid to boost discipline at the club. "A lot has been made of the discipline but there hasn't been a big crackdown from me," the former Newcastle and England skipper said. "All I've asked is for people to be in on time - at 10 o'clock. That's not too much to ask. There was a fines system in place and I've increased that because I didn't think the previous one was working. But it's not too much to ask people to be in on time at work." Spanish left-back Jose Enrique remains very doubtful with the knee problem which has sidelined him for several weeks, while midfielder Alan Smith is struggling to shake off a blow to the thigh. Centre-half Steven Taylor returned to training after an ankle injury yesterday and is expected to train again on Thursday, and that would give him a chance of being involved on Monday. Michael Owen is set for a recall after he was dropped ahead of last weekend's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool. "It was a very, very difficult decision to leave Michael out, without a doubt," Shearer added. "He was disappointed but he took it in a very professional way as you'd expect because of what he is and who he is. But he's been in a good frame of mind this week. "We have to win the game and they have to win it as well so we will see what happens."
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