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Barton comes out fighting.

Joey Barton has returned home following the decision to axe him from the Thailand tour and he has been keen to play down the seriousness of the alleged incident, whilst at the same time acknowledging that he had not handled the situation anywhere near as well as he did.
He denied hitting either the teenage fan involved or Richard Dunne and insisted it was he who had been struck. He also stressed that at no time had he broken any of the team rules and looked to distance this incident from the Xmas party one where he admitted he was at fault.
It is a clever move from Barton and gets his side of the story in the public domain before the team land back in Manchester and he faces a disciplinary hearing. It is very much Barton's side of the story and is the polar opposite of the reports that first came out of Thailand on Friday which seemed to indicate Barton as the aggressor rather than re-acting to provocation.
He also did accept he hadn't handled the situation like he should have done and sought the counsel of some of the more senior players in the squad. It looks likely that he will face some club punishment but reports of sackings or suspension appear to be both extreme and unlikely outcomes. More likely will be a heavy fine and strong public words from the club over his future actions and a contrite apology from Barton before a line is drawn under the matter and both club and player move on from this.
Inevitably, clubs have been linked with Barton in todays papers with Birmingham and Wigan apparantly 'primed' for bids, although both Paul Jewell and Steve Bruce have played down the link.
Lost in all of this was the penalty win over Everton to earn City third placed in the Thailand tournament yesterday. The Blues scorer was none other than new signing Andrew Cole who jetted out in time to make the match and put the Blues ahead before James Beattie equalised from the spot.
The Blues now jet home to continue with the pre-season preperations before the season starts in just three weeks time.