How will Newcastle’s criminal be received by Sunderland fans? Hmm…

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The Magpies are unbeaten in nine matches against their arch-rivals on Wearside, and Joe Kinnear will be confident that they can make it ten when the two teams meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. 2-2 draws with Everton and Manchester City have restored confidence, especially as the latter point was achieved despite playing with ten men for most of the match. Is another dismissal on the cards when Newcastle meet Sunderland this weekend?

After all, Setanta bring us news that Joey Barton could be in line for a start against Roy Keane’s men, which would certainly mean the most hostile of receptions from Black Cats supporters. After all, they hardly need an excuse to boo the team they call the Mags (amongst other things) and the midfielder would surely come in for an unprecedented amount of stick.

Asked if the intensity of the derby might be an issue for Barton, Kinnear replied: “Well, that is a thought, yeah, that has already gone through my head.

“I am going to sit down with Joey and explain that to him, like you do with all players.

“I want players to play in a certain style and give everything they have got. He’s a whole-hearted player and he’s got a lot of ability as well.

“Maybe people think about him completely differently and forget about the ability he has got.

“Joey’s one of the best finishers at the club, believe it or not.”

It is clear Kinnear rates Barton highly, as he added: “He’s got a big heart and is a good character – and on top of that, he can play.”

Newcastle supporters, do you think that Barton should be back in the team for this match, or is it worth sticking with the same midfield players that have helped the team’s mini-revival? After all, the visitors have a tough enough job silencing the home fans, let alone with a player in their midst who has such an infamous past.

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