Date: 17th September 2007 at 9:16am
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With the likes of Beye and Faye coming back into contention for the first team, Big Sam has had his options further bolstered in midfield by the return to fitness of Joey Barton. With the feisty Scouser having broken his metatarsal in pre-season it`s good to know he`s back in business. However Sam has told him in no uncertain terms that the battle for a place is going to be a tough one:

‘Joey Barton is back in training on his own at the moment. The specialist has given him the all-clear to start a little bit of running. I would say it is probably between three and four weeks. The extent of the break meant that is wasn’t going to be the normal six weeks.

It appears to be a little bit longer than that. I would have hoped not. I’d be hopeful the present form of the players who are fit would mean that he might be fit to be unselected! That would be a nice scenario for me . . . to get him back fit again and then to say: ‘Sorry Joey, can’t put you in because these lads are doing that well. Glad to have you back, but you have to take your chance when it comes around’.’