Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear will not allow the furore surrounding Joey Barton to cloud his judgment ahead of Tuesday's must-win clash with West Brom.
While a national debate rumbles on over Barton's continued presence on Tyneside following his prison stretch and his attack on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo, Kinnear is concentrating solely on what the 26-year-old can do for his struggling side.
"I am being criticised for bringing Joey back, but I have got to do the best I possibly can with the squad I have," said Kinnear. "I am not going to listen to people or pay lip-service to anybody. I am playing Joey Barton because he is a good player."
He added: "I am not going to have anybody else tell me different."
The Magpies head into the game looking for their first Barclays Premier League victory since August 23 and still licking their wounds after Saturday's derby defeat at Sunderland, their first on Wearside for 28 years.
Barton proved to be a central character at the Stadium of Light despite being on the field only for the last few minutes following his return from a six-game disciplinary ban.
The £5.8million signing was pelted with bottles and coins as he warmed up on the sidelines and infuriated baying home fans when he kissed his badge in their direction as the temperature rose inside the Stadium of Light before eventually erupting on the final whistle.
And he could find himself pressed into service from the off on Tuesday with Nicky Butt missing.
The former Manchester United star was a doubt for Saturday's game with an ankle problem, and had a painkilling injection at half-time after suffering a dead leg.
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