Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear has warned Joey Barton not to give his critics any further ammunition as he attempts to rebuild his career.
The 26-year-old midfielder has featured in the club's last three games after completing a six-match disciplinary ban on top of this summer's prison sentence but has already found himself in the headlines, first after being targeted by Sunderland fans and then becoming involved in a spat with Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Kinnear said: "None of this is going to go away. Joey is playing with all this stuff over his head and it is coming back to haunt him and the only way he can answer his critics is to play good football."
Neither Villa nor the Football Association decided to take any further action after Monday night's incident but the former Manchester City midfielder has been left in little doubt every action will be scrutinised in minute detail.
Kinnear added: "He has to just be himself and play as well as he has been. He was outstanding the other night.
"When he came on against Sunderland, he got stories for the wrong reason, and again, it marred his performance. What happened the other night was unfortunate.
"But the thing is with Joey, he has got good character. I speak to him on a daily basis and I have spoken to him and said, 'You are in the limelight, you can't afford to give them what they are looking for. You are a silly boy'.
"But he is so competitive. He is a winner, and like all competitors and winners, they sometimes over-step the mark because of their nature.
"He has got to control that and once he manages to do that, then he is as good as most midfielders around in the Premier League.
"He is a winner for sure, so I don't ever want him to lose that. I don't want him to lose the fact that he has that winning mentality, I don't want that to be taken away from him."
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