Belfast Telegraph

Hughes relaxed over Barton

Mark Hughes insists he has no problem with Joey Barton tweeting, but has warned the QPR captain that he will have to step in if his actions compromise dressing room harmony at Loftus Road.

Barton used Twitter to label former manager Neil Warnock "embarrassing" after he claimed people from inside and outside of the club tweeting owner Tony Fernandes helped "poison" his reputation and led to his sacking two weeks ago.

Barton's tirade came less than 24 hours before Saturday's 3-1 win over Wigan, but Hughes did not speak to the midfielder and has no current plans to ask him to tone down his controversial tweets. Asked if he was concerned about Barton's actions, Hughes said: "No, not at this stage."

He added: "Joey understands what happens in the dressing room stays there and I don't think it will be a problem."

However, Hughes stressed the need for his squad to stick together to keep out of the relegation zone, and warned Barton that any messages which damage squad unity will not be tolerated.

"If ever I felt that it was going to compromise us then we'd have a conversation and talk it through, but certainly I haven't felt the need to do that up to this point," said Hughes.

Barton played through jeers from the travelling Wigan fans as QPR moved out of the bottom three thanks to strikes from Heidar Helguson, Akos Buzsaky and Tommy Smith.

Barton, who returned to the side after a three-match suspension, has been no stranger to controversy and Hughes backed the 29-year-old to deal with any flak that comes his way.

"He's a big personality and he can deal with that, he thrives on it," Hughes said. "Some players carry that well, carry it on their shoulders and it doesn't affect them at all.

"I thought he played really well. Other players try to shy away from all that because it affects their performance level. But for Joey it's water off a duck's back."

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