Queens Park Rangers Vs Newcastle United, Mon 12 Sep 2011

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QPR manager Neil Warnock believes Joey Barton epitomises the exciting future at Loftus Road and has the ability to play at a top-four club.

The 28-year-old became the first signing after Tony Fernandes' recent takeover of the club and penned a four-year deal with QPR.

Barton was in the final year of his contract at St James' Park and was made available for a free transfer after criticising the club's recruitment policy via his Twitter account.

Warnock admits Barton's signature was quite a coup for the newly-promoted side, who could hand the midfielder his debut against the Tynesiders on Monday evening.

"Let's be fair when you've been playing at a stadium like Newcastle's and you've played at the Emirates and all these other top stadiums, it is a little bit of an eye opener to look at little Loftus Road with the atmosphere and everything like that," he said.

"But he took on board everything we were [telling] him about what the future is, what we thought of the timing of him coming and also what the chairman wants to do with the club.

"I think it is an exciting project and you have to walk before you can run and that is what the club is trying to do.

"I thought the signing of Joey really epitomised what the chairman was on about.

"It made the other signings relatively easy because people were thinking: 'wow, well if he is coming here then it can't be bad' and I think that helped."

He added: "I thought London might just tempt Joey.

"I know he is very articulate with his tweets and I know he likes museums and oil paintings so I thought it might just tempt him and his partner.

"I think she wanted to come down as well so that was always the thought at the back [of my mind].

"Listen, everybody always talks about Joey's baggage and I think if you look at myself, we have all said and done things in the past that we probably regret later on.

"But if you look at what Joey has got to offer, if he didn't have a little bit of baggage then I am sure Queens Park Rangers couldn't be signing him.

"I think he would be at a top-four club without a shadow of a doubt.

"You can't tell me he wouldn't enhance at least three of the top four clubs because I think he would."

Newcastle striker Leon Best is desperate to make his mark for club and country after finally emerging from his injury nightmare.

The 24-year-old has spent much of the 18 months since he arrived at St James' Park from Coventry fighting his way back to fitness, and his repeated absences have hampered his efforts to establish himself on both the Barclays Premier League and international fronts.

However, an injury-free start to the new campaign has helped him extend his impressive goalscoring record in the top flight.

And he is determined to prove he is the man to ease the pain of Newcastle's so far fruitless search for a marksman and force his way back into Republic of Ireland reckoning.

Best to QPR having scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Fulham last time out to take his tally to eight in 10 Premier League starts for the club.

He said: "I have not played that many Premier League games, but it's good for me because the games I have played I have scored in.

"It's a good ratio for me and I intend keeping that goals-to-games ratio the same.

"I have had no injuries, touch wood, and got some goals as well, so I am very confident."

Best and his fellow strikers spent much of the summer looking on as Newcastle were linked with a list of targets as boss Alan Pardew sought a replacement for Andy Carroll, who left the club in a #35million switch to Liverpool in January.

Ultimately, the vacancy remained unfilled as the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Gervinho, Mevlut Erding, Modibo Maiga and Bryan Ruiz went elsewhere or opted to stay where they were.

However, Best insists he was unfazed by the speculation and just carried on with the job of ensuring he was ready to take his chance when it came along.

He said: "You have just got to get on with it, that's part of football. Whoever is coming to the club, they are coming to make the club better and make the team stronger."

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Joey Barton
Leon Best
Premier League

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