Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday January 5 2007
Martin O'Neill has spelt out exactly the player that Gareth Barry has developed into by saying he would fit into any team in the Premiership including the top four.
Barry, who was England under-18 captain in his youth, joined Villa from Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. as a trainee in 1997 and has since built up to the lynch pin of the team and captain.
Barry who has played 19 games and scored 8 Premiership goals (and 1 league cup + 3 FA Cup goals against Manchester United this coming weekend) so far this season, has been the subject of much talk as he is a naturally gifted left side player but was overlooked by Sven Goran Eriksson in the England set up and Steve McClaren thus far has also been blinded by his talent or is blinded by the fact he doesn't play in London or in red?
O'Neill said: 'Gareth Barry comes back in which gives us a big lift. I think he's been absolutely fantastic this year. Way back at the start of the season, I thought he'd be capable of getting into most Premiership sides, but he's capable of playing in any one of them, including the top teams, absolutely. I just think he's capable of playing for any of the big teams. Not just because of his attitude, but his attempts to get forward from left-back.'
'In the Charlton game he became a threat, he was the one who won the penalty, he was in their box - he's been brilliant, really great. You wonder where we might be without him - he's been that good. And now, we want to strengthen the side, just to help people like him.'
I'm convinced without him we would have been relegated last season and as O'Neill says, where would we have been this season without him?
O'Neill added on the official site: 'England will come. I know I've been saying that for a while but his form in that position has been so decent it's hard to ignore him. If he stays clear of injury then there's no reason why he can't be thinking about playing for England in the not too distant future. You could be looking at him becoming one of Villa's great players. He's already played over 300 games and he's only 25.'
One of Villa's greats. Hopefully other teams will hear that. HE IS OURS and he is going NOWHERE!
Date:Friday January 5 2007
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