Barton apologises for party incident

Disgraced midfielder Joey Barton has offered Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan a personal apology for his behaviour at the players’ infamous Christmas party last weekend.

But the fiery Liverpudlian will have to wait another 24 hours to see if it has salvaged his place in the City side to face boyhood idols Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Keegan sat stony-faced at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday in support of chairman John Wardle and confirmed Barton had been fined a record six weeks’ wages for attacking young team-mate Jamie Tandy with a lighted cigar as the festive gathering spilt over into unacceptable violence.

The former England boss was also able to read Barton’s contrite statement of regret over an incident that has dragged City’s good name through the mud.

But what made far more impact on Keegan was the 22-year-old’s decision to knock on his manager’s office door this morning and clearly state, face-to-face, exactly how sorry he was.

“It is one thing hearing the statement read out yesterday,” said Keegan.

“What meant much more was to see him stand in front of me in a room and hear him say how upset and sorry he was.

“He understands it was wrong and really wishes it had not happened but I have told him you can’t take things back, you can only try to make sure you think things through if a similar situation arises again.

“You can’t always do the first thing that comes into your head. That is the responsibility of someone in his position.”

Keegan revealed that some of the senior City players felt Barton had been harshly treated, although that is not a view he agrees with.

He is prepared to regard the matter as closed and confirmed the former England Under-21 star will be in his squad for the Boxing Day trip to Everton.

What Keegan refused to confirm though was whether Barton would actually be in his starting line-up.

The Liverpudlian’s presence would normally be taken for granted given the limited resources available to the City boss, plus Barton’s match-winning goal at Bolton last weekend.

However, Keegan confirmed he has yet to make up his mind whether to keep faith with the errant youngster, or look at other options, which could involve Shaun Wright-Phillips moving into a more central midfield position and handing Willo Flood a recall.

“Joey is in the squad and rightly so,” said Keegan.

“On his performances, that is the least he deserves.

“Besides, we only have 17 outfield players to see us through the whole of the Christmas programme, so even if I wanted to leave him out of the squad – and I didn’t – I would have been cutting my nose off to spite my face.

“But we know because Joey was at Everton as a schoolboy, this is a game he would look forward to.

“So if he does miss out he will think back to what he did last Sunday and maybe realise how foolish he was.”

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