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Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce has revealed that Joey Barton has had professional help to turn his life around, and has also asked his team-mates to help him save his career.
The 22-year-old midfielder has been plagued by off-field problems throughout his career, and was nearly sacked after sparking a brawl in a Thailand hotel during a pre-season trip.
Barton was sent home by Pearce and later fined eight weeks wages, but is now desperate to turn things around.
Barton could return to action at Eastlands on Saturday when City face Olympiakos, and Pearce has revealed that the midfield man is making every effort to make a go of his footballing career.
"Joey has come to terms over the last few days with the fact that he needs a lifestyle change," said Pearce
"He has spoken to the professional people and I have seen a change in him already.
"He has apologised to his team-mates but he also asked for their help instead of saying sorry and leaving it at that.
"Basically, he said 'Please will you help me in terms of what I am trying to achieve?'
"It has been an extremely difficult few days for Joey. He's only 22 and still immature, as much as he might think he is mature.
"But in some ways, the salvation for a lot of people is getting on the pitch and he will be involved against Olympiakos.
"I don't think Joey is a thug. He just needs a bit of guidance in life.
"Maybe I see a bit of myself in him. I ended up in mischief rather than nastiness but Joey has just stepped over that line between mischief and nastiness.
"But when I got into scrapes, I was an electrician and nobody gave a damn.
"Joey is a pro footballer and he has to deal with everything that goes with that.
"If he carries on as he was, he won't have a future at this club with me in charge."
"It's getting tickly now - squeaky-bum time, I call it."
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