Joey Barton insists he remains fully committed to Rangers despite being banished from the club’s training ground.
As PLZ Soccer exclusively revealed yesterday, the controversial midfielder found himself at the centre of controversy when he was sent home from training on Tuesday, following a changing-room row with team-mate Andy Halliday and boss Mark Warburton.
He was told not to report back to Gers’ Auchenhowie base until Monday – ruling him out of Saturday’s Premiership clash with Ross County – as Warburton called for a period of calm.
But as PLZ Soccer’s story broke on Thursday afternoon, it appeared the 34-year-old’s short stint at Ibrox was already over.
However, just hours after apologising for the “harsh words” he aimed at his colleagues on Twitter, he told TalkSPORT he was going nowhere.
Barton said: “I’ll sit down with Warbs on Monday – that was always the plan, once the lads win on Saturday because that is the most important thing. I’ll be supporting my team-mates on Saturday, that is all that matters.
“I’ve got to re-evaluate stuff. Now that this has happened it changes the landscape slightly.
“It’s disappointing but I’m as committed to Glasgow Rangers as the day I signed. There’s nothing at all that has altered me from that task.
“All I want is for Rangers to win and for us to be the best we can possibly be, on the training ground and at a match on a Saturday.”
Tuesday’s incident occurred three days after Rangers’ 5-1 mauling at the hands of Old Firm rivals Celtic.
The defeat at Parkhead leaves the Light Blues’ title hopes in peril just five games into the season – with champions Celtic already four points ahead with a game in hand.
The clash with Halliday came as the players were asked to detail where they thought it had all gone wrong against Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops.
But former Newcastle, QPR and Manchester City man Barton insists there is no on-going dispute with his colleague.
“They’ve told me to stay away but there are a lot of misconceptions out there at the moment,” said the ex-England internationalist. “I’ve been asked to re-evaluate the way I’m thinking, but I don’t think they’re going to change – I want Rangers to win!
“We lost to our fiercest rivals at the weekend, we came in to train on Monday and Tuesday and we’re picking the bones of how we get better, how we get Rangers back to the top of Scottish football.
“We’re asked for an opinion and I’m someone who gives an opinion. Two passionate Rangers players have then shared opinions on how we get better as a team and what’s going wrong for us. It’s nothing more and nothing less than that.
“Obviously sometimes the way I communicate can be a bit blunt and a bit direct and it ruffles people’s feathers, which I know I have to work at, but I don’t apologise for trying to win. I care deeply about playing football.
“There is absolutely no issue with me and Andy. We sat down in the dressing room afterwards and spoke through what was said.
“It’s disappointing that certain people are trying to insinuate that there is, because it’s completely false.
“Andy is a mad, passionate Rangers fan, he’s stood in the terraces, so I’ve got great respect for him. He cares deeply about making the club better, as I do.”
But Barton appeared to criticise Warburton’s decision to exclude him from the club when he said: “The way it’s been handled is strange.
“When you look at my history and you’re told to stay away from the club, it does look like something more has happened, and that’s why I’ve decided to get on the radio and speak, because it’s wrong.”
Barton turned down the chance to stay with Burnley on their return to the Premier League to sign a two-year deal at Ibrox.
But his performances have so far lacked the sparkle which saw him named the Clarets’ player of the year last term and Barton admitted he has not been up to scratch.
However, he insisted his team-mates also need to raise their game.
He said: “You”re only as good as your team mates, so if I am to improve they have to improve.
“I’m not admonishing my own responsibility in terms of my own performances. I’m not trying to make a scapegoat of anybody else or push blame on to anybody else.
“We’re all in this together. We win together and we lose together.
“It should hurt not to win football matches but hopefully we can draw a line under this and get back to doing the most important thing, which is winning matches for Rangers.”