Barry aims to become fixture in England midfield

September 13, 2007

Gareth Barry is keeping his fingers crossed he will remain an integral part of England coach Steve McClaren's plans after another superb display during the demolition of Russia.

The Aston Villa skipper would have been a strong contender for the man-of-the-match award but for two superb goals from Michael Owen which set England on the way to a 3-0 win in the Euro 2008 qualifier at Wembley.

Barry was only given his chance against Israel and the Russians because of injuries to Owen Hargreaves and Frank Lampard but he seized it impressively.

He slotted perfectly into the holding midfield role and, after being quietly efficient against Israel, moved his game up to another gear in the triumph over Guus Hiddink's side.

Hargreaves and Lampard will almost certainly have recovered from thigh problems for the clashes with Estonia at home and Russia away next month.

But Barry admitted: 'I hope I've done enough to stay in the manager's plans. You wait for your chance and when it comes you try and seize it.

'I've had to wait so long because there are so many quality players around. I've done myself no harm and I look forward to meeting up again hopefully.

'It's been something different for me really. To play back-to-back qualifiers at Wembley doesn't come around too often.

'I've waited a long time to get my chance and I've certainly enjoyed the last two games. It was nice to come in for two great performances from all the lads.'

Steven Gerrard has been quick to praise the performances of Barry - frozen out for lengthy spells during Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign - and the Villa man was quick to reciprocate about the influence of the Liverpool midfielder.

He said: 'To come in and play alongside someone like Steven, one of the best midfielders in the world, can make your job easier and we are good friends off the pitch as well, going back to Euro 2000.

'I knew my role and I knew international football. You can get a lot of the ball in the holding role and I was happy with the way the two games went.'

Barry, whose cross set up the crucial opening goal for Michael Owen, believes England can be well satisfied with their week's work which has put their qualification destiny back in their own hands.

He said: 'We knew there was a lot of pressure building up because of the position in the group we were in but we've got the six points and scored six goals - and you can't ask for much more than that.

'We performed well against Israel but we knew we were going to have to raise our game against the Russians. The way we started the game and took the game to them was great but it was a relief to us when we went 2-0 up.

'At 1-0 There were a couple of nervy moments. There was the disallowed goal and then they had a good chance straight after half-time which would have made it harder for us had it gone in.

'But if you're going to succeed, you're going to need that bit of luck sometimes as well.'

Ironically, Barry's next action will be against Eriksson when Villa tackle Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday.

He has always kept private his thoughts about the Swede, who never started with him during his five-and-a-half years as England coach, but admitted he never gave up hope of eventually winning a recall.

Barry said: 'I felt I was good enough to play for my country and, although I've played in the Premier League for nearly nine years now, age was also on my side.

'It does come into your head every once in a while that your international career is probably over but I never stopped believing I could play for England again.

'You can never give up and just have to keep putting your name in the shake-up by playing as well as you can and I'm just happy Steve McClaren has given me an opportunity. I hope I've given him another option.'