Joey Barton’s no-show a relief to Newcastle United’s Mike Williamson

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MIKE Williamson is relieved Joey Barton will not be facing his former club Newcastle United tomorrow.

Barton, right, is suspended for Queens Park Rangers’ visit to the Sports Direct Arena and Williamson, having played alongside the midfielder, is glad he will not be in Mark Hughes’s ranks.

Barton’s departure from Newcastle last summer was controversial, the club having withdrawn its contract offer to the 28-year-old.

Then-captain Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique also left United, yet Alan Pardew’s side has gone from strength to strength on the pitch, with the likes of Yohan Cabaye, David Santon and Demba Ba having settled well into his squad.

“Joey would have brought a bit of spice to the game,” Williamson said. “He’s a good player and he brought a lot to our team.

“Obviously, it’s good from a Newcastle point of view that he’s not playing.

“We’ve lost a lot of big names, but we’ve gone on and done very well. The lads have responded very well.

“We’ve brought some players in and they’ve gelled tremendously. We’re sitting pretty in the league at the minute.”

The game will be Hughes’s first in charge since his appointment as Neil Warnock’s successor and Williamson is expecting QPR will belie their lowly league position and put up a stubborn resistance at Sports Direct Arena.

Newcastle are looking to record a third successive home win, having beaten Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United on Tyneside last week.

“It’ll be a tough fixture, especially as they’ve got a new manager,” added Williamson.

“They’ll be looking to impress and stake their claims.

“We’re just looking to prepare properly and carry the momentum. The lads are buzzing and we hope to carry on the way we’ve been playing.

“If you start thinking about where you’re going to finish, you take your eye off the ball.

“I know it’s a cliché, but we’ve just got to take it game by game and carry on the way we’ve been playing.”

Williamson’s return has helped shore up a United defence which started leaking goals after Steven Taylor was sidelined with a season-ending injury.

“Personally, it’s just nice to get some games under my belt,” he said.

“The lads have worked hard from day one and with the togetherness they’ve got, it wasn’t hard to come in and do a job.

“It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable couple of weeks.”