Barton launches staunch defence of the FA Cup

QPR midfielder Joey Barton has launched a staunch defence of the FA Cup following renewed criticism of the much-maligned competition.

Heading into third-round weekend - usually a highlight of the British sporting calendar - Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has caused a stir by admitting he could do without the distraction of the FA Cup as his priority is clinching Premier League survival.

Lambert went a step further by claiming that other top-flight managers share his opinion, in the season after Wigan Athletic stunned Manchester City at Wembley in May before being relegated from the top flight the following week.

Barton has hit back by insisting that the FA Cup remains a special tournament to compete in.

"Regardless of what managers and chairmen think. Us players love playing in the FA Cup. We all dreamt of scoring the winner at Wembley," Barton posted via his official Twitter account.

"Few of us are lucky enough to get to live that dream. Sad to see clubs tossing it off now because staying up is more important."

Barton took to the popular social media platform to voice his views on the world's oldest club competition ahead of QPR's trip to face Everton, the club he supported growing up.

The 31-year-old added: "Training finished. Ice baths. Then on to Goodison Park for the FA Cup 3rd tomo (sic). Love the FA Cup and at Everton. Stuff of boys dreams.

"Love playing there. Proper football stadium. Its where I 1st watched a match. Cannot wait for KO. My little boy mascot. Great day for all."