Joey Barton calls on Newcastle United fans to back his new team at Sunderland

Joey Barton is set to return to the North East this weekend - and has called on Newcastle United fans to back his Fleetwood Town team.

Barton took over the reigns at Highbury in the summer and has enjoyed a steady start to life in the dugout, with his side not tasting defeat since the opening day of the season.

Joey Barton has called on Newcastle United fans

Joey Barton has called on Newcastle United fans

But Fleetwood and Barton will no doubt face their toughest assignment to date on Saturday afternoon as they make the trip to the Stadium of Light to take on an unbeaten Sunderland side.

The Cod Army could be backed by a sizeable away following on Wearside though, with their manager calling on fans of Newcastle United to back his side against Jack Ross' men.

As a player, Barton spent a four-year spell at St James's Park and maintains an affinity with the Tyneside club.

And he's hopeful that supporters of his former club may give his new employers a welcome boost at the Stadium of Light.

While Fleetwood's crowds are far from large in number, they have offered a vocal backing which has already spurred the Cod Army on this campaign - and Barton is hoping that continues on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, he said: “Newcastle do not have a game at the weekend so we might have a few more fans in the Stadium of Light than is normal for a Fleetwood away game – who knows?

“We saw at the weekend about how important they (Town’s fans) are.

“Saturday was the first time in the stadium, I felt our team was really buoyed on by the fans.

“They really believed we could win that game and that filtered through onto the pitch.”

Barton too had praise for Sunderland fans, who have endured some difficult days in recent years.

“I respect Sunderland; it is a fantastic football club, no doubt about it," he added.

“The fans have stuck with them because it has not been an easy time to stick with them, especially when you see Newcastle doing well."