JOEY BARTON today insisted he is ready to commit his long-term future to Newcastle United.
The midfielder’s agent is in talks about a new deal, with his contract having 18 months left to run.
And the 28-year-old has signalled his willingness to extend his association with the club he joined from Manchester City for £5.8m in the summer of 2007.
Barton – whose early career at St James’s Park was beset by injury and off-the-field issues – has been outstanding this season.
And having rediscovered the form which saw him capped by England, Barton is keen for his contractual sitatuation to be resolved so he can continue concentrate on his football.
However, Barton, among the highest earners at United, will reportedly have to take a pay cut to bring his salary in line with the new pay structure at Newcastle.
“I’ve gone on record to say I want to stay here,” Barton said.
“I’ve started discussions with the club, and everything seems to be going in the right direction, so hopefully we’ll get that sorted as soon as possible, and I can just concentrate on doing my utmost for Newcastle United.”
Barton was in the United side which was held to a draw by an injury-time goal from Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon on Saturday.
The strike cancelled out Fabricio Coloccini’s 59th-minute opener, and Barton left St James’s Park frustrated, Newcastle also having conceded an added time equaliser away to Sunderland six days earlier.
“It’s the second week running we’ve conceded in stoppage time,” added Barton. “It’s always difficult – you feel like you’ve lost the game.
“They were very, very good in the first half, and kept the ball for fun. We were a different side in the second half, and changed the shape a little bit.
“We probably should have finished the game off, but with the quality they’ve got, they hit us on the break.”
Manager Alan Pardew, will know just how Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp felt when he was relieved of his wallet on a scouting visit to Spain last week – mugged!
While Redknapp’s credit cards can be replaced, the four points Newcastle lost in the space of six days can’t – and didn’t Pardew and his players know it.
The previous weekend it had been Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan, and on Saturday it was Lennon’s turn to deprive Pardew’s side of a win.
Given the injuries – and suspension to Cheik Tiote – which have decimated Newcastle in recent weeks, two points from two trying games would probably have been seen as a decent return before a ball was kicked.
But Pardew’s players left St James’s Park, as they had at the Stadium of Light, feeling as if they’d just been beaten.
Before the game, Pardew had talked of having a “strategy” to beat Tottenham, despite the absence of Tiote, Andy Carroll and Steven Taylor, among others, from his squad.
And what Newcastle’s fans saw before the break was an organised and disciplined performance, with Spurs, while dominating possession, rarely troubling the home side.
When they did get in behind the defence, Tottenham were confronted by Steve Harper, who denied Jermain Defoe with a superb save on the stroke of half-time. Leon Best had earlier hit the crossbar.
And galvanised by their showing before the break, Newcastle took the game to their visitors. With the help of a slight tactical adjustment as Best dropped deeper, in the second half their resurgence culminated in a goal fit to win any game.
Fabricio Coloccini chested the ballt down and shot across Carlo Cudicini with his right foot into the far corner of the net.
Stung by the goal, Spurs – who were helped by the loss of Danny Guthrie to cramp with a quarter of an hour left – fought their way back into the match, which swung wildly from end to end.
Substitute Nile Ranger shot narrowly wide after escaping Michael Dawson.
And Newcastle were left to rue that missed opportunity 23 seconds into added time when Danny Simpson stood off Aaron Lennon on the left, and the winger took the ball on to his favoured right foot before squeezing it between Harper and his post.
Harper must have had a sense of déjà vu when he picked the ball out of his net.
Newcastle: Harper, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Barton, Guthrie (Perch 74), Nolan, Gutierrez, Best (Lovenkrands 65), Ameobi (Ranger 88). Subs Not Used: Krul, Campbell, Xisco, Ferguson. Goals: Coloccini 59.
Tottenham: Cudicini, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Bale (Bassong 11), Lennon, Modric, Jenas (Crouch 71), Pienaar (Kranjcar 83), Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs Not Used: Pletikosa, Kaboul, Corluka, Sandro. Goals: Lennon 90.
Att: 51,010 Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).