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Sunderland's Di Cano shrugs off Barton challenge in Harper testimonial

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has revealed he could have gone through Joey Barton in Wednesday night's testimonial for former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper.

QPR midfielder Barton, a former Magpies player, clattered into the back of Black Cats boss Di Canio in front of more than 52,000 cheering fans at St James' Park with the Italian mocking the tackle by pretending to dust his calf upon getting to his feet.

After the match, the outspoken Di Canio says it is normal for someone like Barton to want to be the forefront of attention but made it clear that there was nothing in the incident.

"There was an occasion after five minutes that if I go straight I will damage, but I'm a manager, he's a footballer, I'm not stupid," he said.

"He has to play football, it's not a challenge between me and him.

"I can understand because we know his character that he wants to be involved in situations. It's in his nature.

"It's not even wrong, sometimes he goes overboard in his football. It was a fun moment. We know him, he wants to be good in front of the people, in front of the fans.

"I thought I can't get involved with this. It's not the nature of the occasion."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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