Kevin Keegan has given Joey Barton a chance to resurrect his career at Newcastle.
Barton is set to leave prison this week after serving a six-month sentence for assault and Keegan has vowed to stand by the England midfielder.
“People have opinions, and you must respect those, but mine is to give him another chance and back him,” the Magpies boss said. “There are a lot of things he needs to put right, but I think he can do it. Joey will be back with us towards the end of this month.
“It’s well documented he’s had his problems, but I knew of them when I took over. He’s served his sentence, he’s been punished for what he did wrong. I’m hoping that he’ll come back and we’ll get him fit. It’s up to Joey to put things right now, he’s got to win over a lot of people.”
Meanwhile, Keegan says he expects captain and England striker Michael Owen to sign a new deal at the club “in the next two to three weeks”.
“I know Michael wants to stay and I know we want to keep him, so that’s two good reasons why it should happen,” the boss added.
Keegan, however, looks like missing out on defender target Nicolas Burdisso after the 27-year-old Argentine said he wanted to stay with Inter Milan. The Magpies are also being linked with a £4m move for Arsenal’s Philippe Senderos.