Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton must banish the 'demons' that have led him 'completely off the rails' and into jail, Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has warned.
Barton's club yesterday said they wanted to hold talks with the player and his representatives as soon as possible after he escaped a second jail term when he received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
That punishment was imposed after the 25-year-old midfielder admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo during a training session on May 1 last year.
Taylor, however, fears Barton needs to help himself from now on.
He told talkSPORT: 'It's one of those strange situations that when you talk to the lad in the cold light of day he's quiet, he's calm, he's considered.
'But he has those demons - there's no doubt they're there. He's been fortunate with this [latest] sentence, that it's been suspended.
'No doubt the judge, like us (the PFA), will be hoping that this term in prison will have made him come to terms with his problems - and I hope he's eradicated them for the sake of his life and his football career.'
Taylor confirmed the PFA have already offered to help Barton.
'We encouraged him to take use of our facility at Tony Adams' Sporting Chance clinic that is staffed by people who have been through and have had various addictive problems,' he said.
'With Joey Barton, it's been anger management and it's also problems with alcohol. I was hoping that the incarceration, to be in prison, would be a catalyst.'
Assistance from strong management may be another factor that could put Barton on the right track, according to Taylor.
'He needs a strong support system, like a lot of our lads; they are all under similar pressures,' Taylor explained. 'But most have been successful when they've had counselling. Having said that, there's always some [who aren't successful] and that's very difficult.
'I'm hoping that this spell in jail will help him comes to terms with himself as a footballer and his life. It's a sad case. He's completely off the rails - and if it carries on like this, he'll continue to cause suffering to people.
'He's not been acting on the advice he's been getting.
'It might be that a totally new start at a new club is best. Like a new broom, sweep him clean - and hope that that can have the right psychological effect on him.'