Barton to make amends
Newcastle - Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton wants to repay the 5.8 million pounds the Premier League club spent to sign him after a turbulent time away from football.
Barton recently completed a six-game ban for a Football Association charge of violent conduct imposed for an assault on his former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo which also saw him receive a four-month suspended jail sentence.
He was also sent to prison for six months following a separate 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.
However, the 26-year-old played 80 minutes of the struggling Premier League club's 4-1 reserve match victory over north-east rivals Middlesbrough and is keen to return to first-team action in Saturday's derby away to Sunderland.
"Because of my past misdemeanours, it has been tough for me," Barton told Wednesday's Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
"The season starts here for me and hopefully, it is a case of onwards and upwards.
"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.
Put his neck on the line
"I want to go on to start paying back my transfer fee, which I don't think I did at any stage last year," he added as he looked to impress caretaker boss Joe Kinnear.
Former United manager Kevin Keegan rejected pressure to sell Barton during the January transfer window before resigning a day before the player's personal hearing in front of the FA over the Dabo incident.
"Kevin, as everybody knows, put his neck on the line for me," said Barton
"He stuck by me, and I am eternally grateful to him for that.
"A lot of other people at the club stuck by me too, and they know who they are. Hopefully, I can go on and do a job for this football club."
A derby match may not be the right fixture for the volatile Barton's return but, with Newcastle second-bottom, Kinnear may decide he is worth the risk.
"I am ready for the Sunderland game. I know it is a derby and I am aware of how passionate the fans are about local derbies," said Barton.
"I am more concerned mainly about getting my body right so I can be part of the squad.
He added: "I haven't thought about the game too much. But in the coming days, the adrenalin will start running and the derby build-up kicks in."