Stephen Ward explains why Joey Barton will be a positive influence at Burnley again

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BY Raf Diallo 22:10 Wednesday 21 December 2016, 22:10 21 Dec 2016

Burnley's Stephen Ward (left) and Joey Barton celebrate their side's win after the final whistle. Picture by Andrew Matthews EMPICS Sport

Ireland left back Stephen Ward is delighted to have Joey Barton back at Burnley.

The midfielder has signed with the Premier League club subject to international clearance after his Rangers spell came to an abrupt end.

Barton (34) was a key part of the Burnley side that achieved promotion from the English Championship and Ward told Off The Ball that he is welcoming his team-mate's influence. 

"Since he's come back in, it doesn't look like he's been away. [He's] back to his old self really and been training well the last couple of days," he said.

Barton is back in the Burnley players' Whatsapp group but did he ever leave?

"No, he did leave it for a while. He said his goodbyes when he went to Rangers and he swiftly got back in it when he got back into training with us a couple of weeks back," he said.

Barton is perceived to be a difficult character by some but Ward says that was never the case at Burnley last season as the one time England cap helped them to promotion to the Premier League. 

"There was no trouble whatsoever. He was a great around the changing room. He was a real leader," he said.

"If you ask any of the lads, I don't know if we'd have got promoted without signing him to be honest with you. He was a real leader and pushed everyone over the line," he said, before outlining the positive way he and his team-mates view Barton.

"He's one of these lads, he has his opinion and he likes a good debate here and there but he's brand new since he's been in and I don't think any of our lads at our place would have a bad word to say about him." 

And he added that Barton having his say in the dressing room gave Burnley a necessary kick up the backside in a couple of games last season.



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