Obertan says Toon Army have quality to fill void left by Barton
Gabriel Obertan claims the only thing Newcastle United will miss about Joey Barton is his charisma as he believes they have better players in the squad to replace him.
Given that Obertan will play in the right-wing position vacated by Barton when Newcastle take on QPR tonight, that view is understandable, yet there is also a clear hint of relief that the volatile midfielder has departed after he annoyed the club hierarchy with his criticism on Twitter of the way Newcastle was being run.
A quirk of the fixture list means Barton will make his debut for QPR against the club he left in acrimonious circumstances a fortnight ago.
There are some on Tyneside who are still coming to terms with the loss of a player who did so much to help Newcastle consolidate a place in the Premier League last season, but Obertan, a £3.5m summer arrival from Manchester United, denied there was any sense of mourning in the dressing-room.
Obertan was a team-mate for only a few weeks and is generally complimentary about Barton, yet there was a clear message designed to reassure those who feel Newcastle will struggle without him.
"He was a massive player," said Obertan. "I only got to know him for a couple of games and a couple of weeks. He was a big voice in the dressing-room and on the pitch, so he might be a miss, but we've got plenty of quality players as well so it's not really a problem. The only thing might be the voice in the dressing-room."
There is one big name QPR's new owner Tony Fernandes would like in his dressing-room: David Beckham.
The former England captain is due to leave LA Galaxy at the end of this year and Fernandes, who is taking in his first game at Loftus Road since his takeover, said: "If we could offer him a route back in to England then we would definitely try to do that, and also if it fitted in with (manager) Neil Warnock's plans.
"I made it very clear that I'm not here to pick a squad or tell the manager what to do.
"I'm not sure whether David Beckham would want to come to us; he would have to understand the story and where we were going. But if he bought into that vision, then yeah, I would be prepared to pay the necessary wages."
Team Lotus principle Fernandes described himself as "very, very excited and very, very nervous" ahead of tonight's game, to which he will bring a host of Formula One drivers as well as one of his F1 cars. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
QPR v Newcastle Utd,
Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0