Newcastle United could be crossing swords with Joey Barton in three months time according to reports on Wednesday morning.

Media claims from various newspapers, including The Mirror, say that Aston Villa are the hot favourites to offer Barton a new start away from Ibrox.

Joey Barton of course has been suspended at Rangers since a major bust-up with Manager Mark Warburton and other players after a thumping defeat to Celtic in September.

The former Newcastle midfielder surely good enough to play in the Scottish Premier League but apparently failing miserably to deal with the politics and emotions involved in football in Glasgow.

Only last season, Joey Barton was a key figure in Burnley topping the table on their return to the Premier League, with the midfielder voted by his fellow professionals into the PFA Championship team of the season.

So little doubt that, if his mind/focus is right, that he could compete once again in the English second tier.

As we approach the pantomime season, Joey Barton’s suspension recently ended and Rangers were obliged to offer their player training facilities, so sent him to train with the kids.

The Daily Record reporting that he was also banned from using the senior players’ car park and canteen, to which Joey Barton reacted by turning up for one training session with the Under 20s before getting a sicknote off the doctor for ‘stress’.

Rangers are wanting Barton out of the club as soon as possible and a pay-off is claimed to be imminent so that his contract can be ripped up.

This would clear the way for Joey Barton to sign for Aston Villa, or anybody else, as a free agent.

Steve Bruce is said to be keen to take the midfielder on, as he looks to turn Aston Villa around. Barton of course played in that famous 5-1 thrashing of Sunderland in 2010, when facing Steve Bruce’s team in the colours of Newcastle.

Newcastle are set to face Aston Villa and Steve Bruce…and potentially Joey Barton, on Saturday 18 February 2017, should be an interesting game – especially if Barton adds his presence to it.