Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has vowed to repay the club for the troubles he has brought them and is hoping for a derby return against Sunderland at the weekend.
The 26-year-old played 80 minutes of Tuesday night's 4-1 reserve-team victory over Middlesbrough after completing his six-match FA ban and could now return to senior action at the Stadium of Light on Saturday if manager Joe Kinnear decides he is ready.
Barton told the Evening Chronicle: "Because of my past misdemeanours, it has been tough for me. The season starts here for me and hopefully, it is a case of onwards and upwards."
He added: "It's the first game I have played, really. It is a starting point, but I have trained hard.
"The aim is to turn in performances for the fans. I want to do it for everybody connected with the club; players, fans and staff, everybody I have let down in the past.
"I want to go on to start paying back my transfer fee, which I don't think I did at any stage last year."
Barton, a £5.8million signing from Manchester City, was hit with the ban, a further six matches of which were suspended for two years, after admitting an FA charge of violent conduct against former City team-mate Ousmane Dabo following an incident that also earned him a four-month suspended jail sentence for assault.
However, his darkest moment came when he was sent to prison for six months following another incident in Liverpool city centre in December last year.
Barton, who pleaded guilty to charges of assault and affray, served 74 days and has made only one appearance as a substitute for Newcastle since his release.
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