Barry backs Heskey over Villa exit talk

LONDON: Gareth Barry admits Emile Heskey is right to consider leaving Aston Villa to keep his place in the England team ahead of next year's World Cup.

Heskey is in the unusual position of being an England regular while struggling to get a starting place in Martin O'Neill's Villa line-up.

The former Liverpool forward revealed after England's 1-0 defeat against Ukraine on Saturday that he may be forced to look for a move when the transfer window re-opens in January because he can't afford to lose his spot in Fabio Capello's team.

England coach Capello has made it clear that ideally players need to be starting regularly for their clubs and Heskey fears that will count against him sooner rather than later.

Barry, who quit Villa for Manchester City in the close-season, said: "The World Cup is in the back of everyone's mind so I can understand where Emile is coming from. It's not just Emile, it's that time of year when you want to be playing regularly.

"He has his place in the England team at the moment and won't want anything to change that. Playing regularly for your club can help you cement a place in the England squad.

"Emile has struck a great partnership with Wayne Rooney in the qualifying campaign. His work-rate and the way he plays for the team is second to none.

"Wayne and the other attacking midfielders have thrived playing off him. He's a big part of the England team."

Barry hopes to regain his place in Capello's team against Belarus on Wednesday after Manchester United's Michael Carrick started ahead of him against Ukraine.

"You want to play in every game and when you are left out it increases your hunger to get back in," he said. "I'll work hard and try to make the next team.

"Every player knows competition is very high and in World Cup year it goes up another level."

Meanwhile, Barry fears City's players could become the game's new boo-boys as fans, jealous of the club's spending spree, start to lash out.

"We've spoken about it among ourselves at City this season," Barry said. "People outside of the club may look at us in a different way and it is something the players, including myself, can deal with. It's important that we don't let it affect us.

"Anyone would be lying if they said they don't want a good reception when they go back to their old club. I have a lot of friends in Birmingham so it was something that I was expecting - a mixed reception if you like.

"It was another learning curve and another experience for myself. You can learn from these and still improve."