Everton’s on-loan midfielder Gareth Barry can play on into his 40s, according to manager Roberto Martinez.
Barry, who arrived from Manchester City on September 2 in a deal that will run until the end of the season, is set to make his 500th Premier League appearance when Newcastle visit Goodison Park on Monday night.
The 32-year-old will be only the 10th player to reach that landmark -- joining Ryan Giggs, David James, Frank Lampard, Gary Speed, Emile Heskey, Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville, Mark Schwarzer and Sol Campbell.
But Martinez believes that Barry could chase down another landmark if he stays clear of injuries.
Gordon Strachan and Teddy Sheringham are the only outfield players to have featured in the Premier League beyond their 40th birthday -- with Ryan Giggs set to join them if he is selected for Manchester United beyond his next birthday on November 29 this year.
Barry, who made his league debut for Aston Villa against Sheffield Wednesday in 1998, is a contender to join that elite band, Everton’s boss has argued.
Martinez told the Daily Telegraph: "I think Gareth could play up to his 40s. The longer he plays and the older he gets, he will be able to influence the team in a different way, like Ryan Giggs has done at Manchester United."
Barry made an excellent start to his Everton career, inspiring a 1-0 home win over Chelsea on September 14 with a starring performance that included a vital block tackle to deny Samuel Eto’o a goal.
And Martinez is hopeful that the England international, whose City contract expires next summer, will stay at Goodison Parl beyond the end of his loan stint.
He said: "Gareth could be a significant player for Everton for years to come. When you see a player perform the way Gareth did on his home debut, straight away you see a perfect fit. And in football, the best decisions are the ones that are natural.
"His deal is a loan to the end of the season. Obviously, it would be great if we can work with Gareth and he can become a really significant player and part of the history of Everton."