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A quick catch-up

During the couple of weeks I've been away there have been a couple of news items which although not now 'hot off the press', I feel are probably worth adding my two cents to in my first post back.

Joey Barton signing a four-year deal with the club. Was it a case of negotiations between player, agent and club coming to fruition or the fact that no club showed significant (or any) interest in the player? I would say more likely to be the latter given what we know and have heard over the past six months, but maybe there is an element of the former involved. Whatever the reasons, Pearce has been praising Barton of late since signing his deal (particularly after his hat-trick against Port Vale) and hopefully Barton will put the last six months behind him and return to the form that he showed over the first half of last season when he undoubtedly displayed the best form of his career.

Maybe we have to cut Barton a little slack over this and accept that signing the contract is now a commitment to the club, but undoubtedly he will still have to win over many of the fans due to his actions last January.

Stuart Pearce adds another striker to the mix in Bernardo Corradi. Generally I'm in favour of this move, although I'm still speculating on what Pearces' opening day combination will now be as Corradi joins Samaras, Cole, Vassell and Dickov in battling it out for a start. Corradi in some ways reminds me a little of Luca Toni - although less of a potent threat. He rose to prominence during Chievo Verona's rise to Serie A a few seasons back. He was touted for a move to one of the big sides in Italy and ended up at Lazio where he enjoyed mixed fortunes before moving to Valencia (with fellow Italians Marco di Vaio and Stefano Fiore - who we have also been linked with). Spain was not a happy hunting ground and he returned last season to Parma before signing for us this summer.

A concern for me though is the way his career has stalled somewhat over the past couple of seasons and that no Italian sides were willing to take a chance on him, but maybe this will serve as motivation for him and I see him being able to link with any of the current crop of strikers, although I see a potential partnership developing with Samaras.

Lee Croft is sold to Norwich. Croft had a decent number of chances last season without really starring, but was given a two-year contract towards the end of the season which indicated he had at least a short-term future at the club. However, with the midfield additions (and Barton signing a new deal) made over the summer he has fallen down the pecking order and would not realistically feature in the side short of an injury crisis.

Much like the Bradley Wright-Phillips sale, I can't really see much of an argument against this move.

Pre-season games so far. The 'lesser' games are now out of the way before we head out to China and then host Porto in the season curtain raiser. Being away I haven't caught any of the games and only seen the results and match reports once I got back, but an unbeaten run can't be bad and a couple of clean sheets after leaking goals in the first two games is also positive.

Although most of the squad have seen some action so far, the fringe players appear to have gotten most of the time with the likely first team line-up beginning to feature more during the Chinese tour.