Friday 20 October 2017

Goal ace Barton sets a benchmark

Burnley 1 Southampton 0

Joey Barton celebrates with Ashley Barnes Photo: Reuters
Joey Barton celebrates with Ashley Barnes Photo: Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Joey Barton may not be used to being a sub - but Burnley boss Sean Dyche was glad he introduced him for a match-winning return to the Premier League.

In a 1-0 success over Southampton, the 34-year-old midfielder scored with a free-kick in the 78th minute, five minutes after coming off the bench. Barton was an integral part of Burnley's title-winning campaign last season before he spent an ill-fated spell at Rangers, and he rejoined Dyche's squad earlier this month, despite a possible Football Association ban hanging over him for alleged betting breaches.

Joey Barton of Burnley (R) scores. Photo: Getty
Joey Barton of Burnley (R) scores. Photo: Getty

Asked what such a colourful character is like as a replacement, Dyche joked: "He said: 'What do I do?' He was confused by being sub. He said: 'Do I take my boots out with me? Wear a T-shirt or wear a warm-up top or what?' I said: 'Oi, you, get on with it!'" Barton may have struggled to find a home at several stops throughout his career, but at Burnley he has a manager who understands him and fans who adore him.

And in a dull contest, it had to be Barton who claimed the winner. "You can't make it up," Dyche admitted. "I just said to him: 'I couldn't write your story'. A sublime finish. He's experienced. There's an assuredness from many years of playing top-level football around many clubs. He gets a bit of stick, he's so used to that, he brushes it off and gets on with it and focuses on his football.

"I felt it was appropriate for him to come back in to us. I've had no question marks about him before and I didn't see why I would again."

Southampton's Virgil van Dijk in action with Burnley's Ben Mee (L) and James Tarkowski. Photo: Reuters
Southampton's Virgil van Dijk in action with Burnley's Ben Mee (L) and James Tarkowski. Photo: Reuters

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