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Plenty of options in Wenger's Arsenal

Arsenal
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Pardew dismisses Barton strike talk

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has scoffed at claims Joey Barton refused to face Bolton last week due to a wrangle over his future.

Barton missed the 1-1 draw with the Trotters, withdrawing at the 11th hour on account of a thigh problem. Rumours suggested his absence was more sinister than an injury, with it being claimed he walked out after talks over a new contract broke down.

The midfielder's place in the team to face Everton on Saturday has not yet been confirmed, but Pardew has dismissed talk the player refused to take to the field the previous week.

"I saw a couple of whispers last week - not in the national media - that he didn't want to play," Pardew said. "It's absolutely not true. He's desperate to play tomorrow.

"Joey's commitment to play for us. Don't doubt that. He's going to come in early and try and play through that injury."

Barton has made repeated statements with regard to thrashing out a new deal with Newcastle, but it would appear problems have been encountered.

"I don't think the situation has changed in the last week," Pardew said. "We'll have to sit down with Joey and start again because we thought we were there but it hasn't quite materialised. I'm not going to go into detail."

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