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By ESPN Staff

Barton freed after serving 74 days in Strangeways

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton was released from jail on Monday morning.

Barton, 25, left Strangeways prison in Manchester at 11am after serving 74 days of a six-month sentence for beating up a teenager in Liverpool city centre last December.

He was jailed on May 20 after pleading guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to assault and affray and on Monday the £40,000-a-week former Manchester City player enjoyed his first taste of freedom after weeks in the cells.

Barton, wearing jeans and a jumper and carrying a holdall, shook hands with a friend waiting for him outside the prison gates. He made no comment to reporters before getting into a waiting silver Land Rover and being driven off.

The Professional Footballers' Association are hoping Barton is able to focus on his career and put off-field problems behind him.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor believes Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan could be the ideal character for Barton to be working with.

'Hopefully Kevin thinks he can work his oracle with Joey and get his life back on track, both as a human being and as a footballer,' Taylor told BBC Five Live.

'Kevin is very much a people person. He has shown his emotions quite clearly in public. We're all human beings and we all have our failings.

'At the same time you've got to be responsible for your own actions. We've tried to help Joey with the Sporting Chance clinic and to be there to help him when he's needed it.

'But you need to see something in return. It's not been good, it wasn't a good year, but the lad does have ability and you keep hoping he can put it behind him and move on. Whether that will happen, I don't know.'

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