Joey Barton has apologised ‘unreservedly’ after being banished from Rangers’ training ground following an internal dispute.
The midfielder’s future with the Glasgow club was left in doubt after he was sent home on Tuesday following what is understood to have been an altercation with team-mate Andy Halliday.
Barton was told not to return until Monday and the 34-year-old will miss Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership contest with Ross County at Ibrox.
The incident occurred days after Rangers suffered a 5-1 derby defeat by Celtic to leave them four points adrift of the champions, who have a game in hand.
In a statement posted on Twitter late on Thursday, Barton said he was sorry for making inappropriate comments but insisted he only did so because he cares about performing for the club.
“Obviously after (the) Old Firm game on Saturday everybody was hurting and in training on Tuesday there was a full and frank discussion about the result and reasons for our loss,” Barton wrote.
“I, like everyone else, care deeply about the task at hand, which is to restore Rangers Football Club to the top of Scottish football.
“The discussion we had involved some sharp disagreement about the game and some harsh words were said. There were only words involved in the disagreement, nothing else. Nevertheless, some of the words used did overstep the mark.
“As someone who communicates directly, I accept that some of the things I said were inappropriate and for that I apologise unreservedly.
“I cannot, however, apologise for caring deeply about winning and for wanting to perform better myself and for Rangers to do much better.”
Barton confirmed he had been told to stay away until next week and added: “Whilst I don’t feel that this was necessary I fully respect the manager’s decision. I regret what happened and on Monday I will report for training and I will do what it takes to help the team draw a line under it so that we can get back to the task at hand.”
Barton followed the statement with a further tweet which said: “Apologising doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.”
Barton had claimed when he signed for Rangers in the summer that Celtic skipper Scott Brown was “not in my league” but the 34-year-old has had a slow start to his career in Scotland.
The former Newcastle, QPR and Manchester City midfielder, who joined Rangers on a two-year deal from Burnley on July 1, admitted on Sunday that the Parkhead loss was unacceptable.
He wrote on Twitter: “No excuses. Nowhere near good enough for our football club yesterday.”
Manager Mark Warburton earlier claimed the media reaction to his side’s derby loss had been overly negative, but made no mention of Barton’s situation at his press conference to preview Saturday’s league encounter.
“People keep asking me if I’m okay,” Warburton said. “Of course we’re okay. We are professionals. The result hurt so many people, none more so than us, but we have to get on with it.”
Rangers refused to comment on Barton’s situation later on Thursday.