Joey Barton has been at a boot camp in Qatar
Joey Barton was sent to a boot camp in Qatar in a bid to help the midfielder salvage his Rangers career.
Our sister paper the Daily Record say the remorseful 34-year-old left his family behind and spent 10 days in the Middle East.
He will return to the club’s training HQ on Monday morning for a make-or-break meeting with manager Mark Warburton, in which he will fight for his future after serving a month-long suspension.
Barton has been blackballed for almost four weeks following a furious confrontation with Warburton in the wake of a 5-1 thrashing at Celtic Park.
The controversial Scouser was then subsequently caught up in a betting scandal which has seen him accused by the SFA of breaking zero-tolerance rules on gambling.
Barton is already fighting for his Rangers career
But, with his future hanging in the balance amid suggestions his two-year contract could be terminated, Barton secretly left his family behind in Scotland last week in order to sign up for a gruelling fitness regime at a state-of-the-art facility in the Persian gulf state.
The Daily Record say Barton has been training alone three times a day in temperatures tipping 100 degrees as he attempts to get back into top shape ahead of his return to Auchenhowie.
The former Manchester City midfielder is understood to have paid for the trip – to the world-renowned Aspire Academy – out of his own pocket as part of a determined effort to win back Warburton’s trust.
Man United spent 10 days at the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence in 2013
Barton hopes to finally bury the hatchet with his boss on Monday by proving he is sincerely sorry for the training-ground flashpoint as well as mentally ready to return to the first-team squad.
But he is equally keen to prove to the man in charge that he is in peak physical condition and ready for Premiership action despite his month-long lay-off.
With Rangers set to face Celtic for a second time in the Betfred Cup semi-final later this month Barton may even be hoping to prove he is in good enough condition to be fast-tracked into Warburton’s Hampden plans.
Barton speaks to manager Mark Warburton in training
As we revealed yesterday, Barton is still likely to be hit with a one-game ban by the SFA after being probed by the Gambling Commission and accused of placing 44 bets on football matches during his first two months in Glasgow – including a wager on city rivals Celtic suffering a Champions League drubbing in the Nou Camp.
Barton has until Wednesday to respond to the charge, by which time he hopes to have won himself a Rangers reprieve.
If he cannot convince Warburton to give him a second chance then the club’s top earner could spend at least the next three months training at Murray Park either on his own or with the youth department.