Barton in line for Clarets return at Sunderland

Joey Barton
Joey Barton

Joey Barton is in line for a second Clarets debut in the FA Cup at Sunderland on Saturday.

The former Newcastle United midfielder rejoined Burnley on Monday on a deal to the end of the season, after a brief spell with Rangers.

He’s in good shape and ready to continue his journey back to total fitness

Sean Dyche

He has been in training at the Barnfield Training Centre since the end of November, and signed once the transfer window opened, serving a one-game ban from the SFA at former club Manchester City, freeing him up for tomorrow’s third round tie.

Dyche said: “Joey will come into the thinking. He’s served his one game now, and he’s in good shape and ready to continue his journey back to total fitness.

“He had a game with the Development Squad (on Tuesday), but there’s nothing like regular first team football.”

Barton has until 6 p.m. today to answer an FA misconduct charge relating to alleged betting offences, but is available until further notice, and has slotted straight back into the dressing room: “He’s familiar to most of the players, he knows us, we know him, he knows how we work, the situation here, and what we’re all about on and off the pitch.

“He bought into that last season, and there’s no reason he won’t this time.”

It is the chance to claim a first away win of the season in any competition tomorrow, and Dyche, while likely to make some changes, is keen to advance in the cup: “The big thing is, after a good Christmas, we want to continue the performance levels. Because it’s the cup, it doesn’t make any difference to our approach and the thought of winning. We go into every game with that thought.

“We will try and get players some football, because we have a deeper squad and real competition in all areas now.”

Jon Flanagan could also return after missing the last two games with a knee problem: “We’ve has really good news on that. It was just a knock in training and there is bruising. We’ll find out more after training today (Thursday).”

Meanwhile, Flanagan will be staying with Burnley for the rest of the season, as per his loan arrangement from Liverpool, despite comments in the local media being taken out of context.

As reported on burnleyexpress.net on Wednesday, Dyche said: “There’s lots of different management things you need to look at and monitoring their contractual situation, whether it’s a loan player, a player under contract or your contract needs extending, there’s a lot more that goes on than just people think.

“We’ll monitor his situation and him with us, there’s always their angle as well, it’s not just mine.”

But reports of him returning to Liverpool are wide of the mark, as is speculation linking Clarets keeper Nick Pope with a loan switch to Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic.