Everton manager Roberto Martinez says European Cup-winning former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson does not know what he is talking about in dismissing Gareth Barry’s England future.
Barry has made a big impact since moving to Goodison Park on a season-long loan from Manchester City, prompting Martinez to put him forward for an international recall ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
However, former Republic of Ireland international Lawrenson, now a high-profile television and radio pundit, wrote in a column for the Liverpool Daily Post: “Barry has had his time at international level and England have moved on.”
The midfielder, 32, has not played for England since suffering a groin injury during a friendly against Norway in May 2012. He was unable to regain his international spot once he was fit again, as he had lost a regular starting place at City.
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Martinez, though, has dismissed Lawrenson’s comments, saying: “That’s a typical comment from a media person who doesn’t know how the players are on a day-to-day basis.
“What I’m very pleased about is that we’ve got a lot of English players who can help the national team if the manager feels they are needed.
“I’ve spoken about Gareth Barry, I’ve spoken about Phil Jagielka, the good form of Leighton Baines, the emergence of Ross Barkley. I think Leon Osman has shown again that he is a player who can give you something completely different.
“We’re not here to answer any questions. We’re here to try to help the national team, and we’ve got a real pool of quality English talent at the disposal of the England manager if he needs them.”
Everton have not lost a game that Barry has started for them, and will look to continue that run when Tottenham visit Goodison Park in the Premier League on Sunday.
Midfielder Darron Gibson remains a long-term absentee with cruciate knee ligament damage, while centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is around three weeks away from a return after missing the entire season to date with hernia, groin and hamstring problems.
Defender John Heitinga is back in training after a groin problem, and is set to be involved in the squad on Sunday, but striker Arouna Kone will miss out with a knee problem that Martinez admits is causing him concern.
Kone, who joined from Wigan this summer for six million pounds, suffered the injury during the 2-1 win over Hull on Oct. 19, and the manager does not know when the 29-year-old will be fit again.
Martinez said: “I’m a bit concerned with his knee, because he’s someone who normally gets through anything. Little niggles won’t stop him playing and being available.
“I’ve never seen him like this, and we need to make sure we get to the root of the problem. It’s something we need to find out about over the next couple of days. We will do more tests and see how the knee reacts.”
Martinez, meanwhile, has played down reports that Leighton Baines will be leaving Everton in January, urging fans to “trust the club”.
The England left-back, whose current deal runs until 2015, remained at Goodison Park after Everton turned down three bids for him from Manchester United during the summer.
Martinez suggested in early September that Baines, 28, would be offered an improved contract as a reward for staying -- but nothing has so far materialised.
The manager said: “Our fans are the ones who need to know what’s happening. When there’s anything to tell them, they’ll be the first ones to know, but this is a time to trust the football club and trust the squad in terms of the things we have to do.
“Now is a time to concentrate on the games, and not be talking about individual situations, which could distract from what we are trying to do on Sunday.
“It’s not a time to speak about individual situations, apart from assessing their performances and seeing how much they are enjoying their football. I think that Leighton is enjoying his football. He’s had a massive role so far this season and we want that to continue.”
Everton defender Shane Duffy, 21, has had his loan spell at Championship side Yeovil extended for a further month.