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QPR 12:30 Fulham

Obertan plays down Barton factor

Winger not expecting any drama from former Toon man

Last Updated: 12/09/11 9:41am

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Gabriel Obertan insists Newcastle's focus will not solely rest on former team-mate Joey Barton when they travel to QPR on Monday night.

Barton will make his Rangers debut in the Loftus Road encounter against a side he controversially departed just a fortnight ago.

The midfielder was put on the transfer list at St James' Park following his continual Twitter criticisms of the club's board and owner Mike Ashley.

Influence

Frenchman Obertan, who arrived on Tyneside from Manchester United this summer, admits Newcastle will miss the 29-year-old's influence in the dressing room and on the pitch.

But the winger believes there is more than enough quality in Alan Pardew's squad to make up for his absence.

Obertan told the Daily Express: "Barton was a massive player for us. I only got to know him for a couple of weeks but he was a big voice in the dressing room and on the pitch, so he will be a miss, but we have got plenty of quality players so losing him will not be a problem.

"He wasn't afraid to say harsh words at times in the dressing room or on the pitch to wake us up. Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote are now our potential leaders so we won't miss Barton too much because this is a quality group.

"We are not focusing just on Joey. There won't be any violence as it is just a normal game."

Obertan has made a bright start with Newcastle, helping them stay unbeaten in the Premier League and Carling Cup so far this season.

The winger admits it was a tough decision leaving Old Trafford but knew he had to move on after growing frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities.

Choice

"It's quite hard to leave Manchester United in a way because you're playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world," he said.

"Sometimes you just have to make a choice to do what is better for you. I needed to play more so I had to make the decision. I didn't want to spend another two years learning and fighting for just a few minutes on the pitch here and there."

Obertan insists he could always approach United boss Sir Alex Ferguson if he wanted answers over his future, adding: "The good thing with Sir Alex is he is always fair and honest.

"I knocked on his door a few times and he gave me real answers. When you want an explanation he gives it to you. I had no problem knocking on his door."

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