Joey Barton may have promised to tone down his twitter posts after dinner with ‘three wise-men’, but every time his omission from the England squad is announced, I wonder how hard he has to fight to post his true feelings towards his exclusion?
However, the reason Barton perhaps opts not to is because of the multiple factors that aren’t in his favour.
Take his former club, Newcastle, for example. It could be argued that Newcastle have taken many by surprise this season, and although they may fall by the wayside as the season progresses, its worth noting a major change in their side is that they have replaced Barton in the middle of midfield with French international Yohan Cabaye. The results over the first 13 games have been a fast improvement from those of last season. Cabaye has been at the heartbeat of the Magpies sensational early season form, controlling the midfield alongside Check Tiote, allowing ex-Manchester United misfit Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Guttierez to provide the support for in-form pair Demba Ba and Leon Best.
Does Barton’s current form really suggest he should dislodge the midfielders currently in the squad?
Scott Parker has been vital in Tottenham’s surge up the table, and Spurs have only lost one Premier League game when Parker has been involved.
Gareth Barry has been a rock in the Manchester City midfield and it would be harsh to exclude a player who has featured heavily in a side who are cruising at the Premier League summit.
Frank Lampard’s attacking threat from in and around the box makes him a dangerous option from the start or even from the bench.
After a disastrous World Cup campaign, Capello was heavily pressurised to blood the youngsters for a shake up and in preparation for the future tournaments. Whether fans, pundit’s etc. dislike Capello, you can’t argue he has done so. In the midfield, Jack Wilshire seems to have been the main beneficiary and Jack Rodwell has looked comfortable in the recent fixtures that he has been involved in.
That’s not to mention the currently injured Steven Gerrard, who you would expect to take a seat on the plane to make the trip to Poland and Ukraine, if fully fit.
This could be argued if England were a struggling side, but results would suggest they’re not. After comfortably securing qualification, encouraging performances against World Champions Spain and the notoriously, tricky Sweden makes the QPR midfielder task even more difficult.
It’s Spain who Barton made his one and only England appearance against, and although he was only a substitute, he failed to make any impact. This was when he deserved an England call-up. His form at that point was outstanding for Manchester City. He looked like a complete midfielder, and if it wasn’t for his performances in the couple of years leading up to his England call-up, Manchester City may have found themselves a Championship outfit once more. With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the prime of their careers, it was always going to be difficult for him to earn a place in Steve McLaren’s side, which is why an instant impact was needed, and unfortunately for Barton, it didn’t materialise.
Barton’s main hope of a place in the England squad depends on if Capello decides to use Andy Carroll as an option. There’s no doubt that the link up between the two caused problems for many back fours in the Premier League last season as Carroll netted 11 times for Newcastle before his £35 million switch to Liverpool. The 22 year-old was largely assisted by Barton’s diagonals and set pieces tailored to his game. If Capello decides to take Carroll as a different option to the seemingly preferred Darren Bent, then this could be Barton’s way into inclusion for Capello’s 23-man squad for the European Championships.
Capello has gone on record labelling Barton as ‘too dangerous’ to consider but stranger things have happened when it comes to selection for a major tournament. You only have to look back to the World Cup in 2006 when a 17 year-old Theo Walcott was selected ahead of the likes of Jermain Defoe and the aforementioned Bent.
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