Gareth Barry admits he could be vying for one England midfield slot against Wales this weekend after conceding that Jack Wilshere’s form means the 19-year-old is likely to start the Euro 2012 qualifier.Barry was a first choice under Fabio Capello up to and including the 2010 World Cup which he played in after battling to overcome an ankle injury.
But the rise of Wilshere and the re-emergence of Scott Parker means Barry’s place – and that of Frank Lampard – are under increasing threat for the Cardiff clash.
Capello hinted strongly last weekend that Arsenal starlet Wilshere was now one of his first-choice players and Barry agrees his form is worthy of a major role at the Millennium Stadium.
The Manchester City player said: “There is a good chance Jack will be involved with the way he is playing.
“The more he has played this year, the more his performances have grown and his confidence has grown.
“I’ve seen a lot of Arsenal’s game and Jack has been putting in some great performances. There is a very good chance he will play in the game.
“You always want to play alongside the best players and, at the moment, Jack is playing well.
“It is great for England that he has come through so early and hopefully he can just keep improving.
“It will be great for the country.”
Barry is reluctant to talk up his own chances of starting against Gary Speed’s side.
He said: “As with any other game, I’ll be going into it not knowing the team etc, not expecting to play but sort of hoping.
“We’ve got four central midfielders vying for two places if it’s 4-4-2.
“I am hopeful I can be involved but I’m aware there are some very good players vying for places as well.
“All four of us are slightly different players and the manager has got options. If he wants to change it, the players are there to do it.”
Parker impressed during the second half of last month’s 2-1 win in Denmark in what was his fourth cap under four different England managers.
Barry said: “I’m surprised Scott has not played more for England
“A player like that should have picked up more caps over the years. But, for whatever reason, he has not managed to do so.”
Barry came in for criticism for his performances in South Africa last summer and has tried to respond in a positive manner.
He said: “You take criticism as a learning curve. Every player is going to get it throughout a career.
“At a World Cup, it is going to be more high profile because of the stage you are on.
“I’ve come back this season, trying to learn from what happened in the summer.
“Sometimes that can make you a better player.
“That’s in the past now. I’ve learned from it and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Barry is adamant the captaincy issue has been put to rest with the reappointment of John Terry in place of injury-prone Rio Ferdinand.
Capello admits the way the armband was passed from one player to another in Copenhagen last month after stand-in skipper Lampard was substituted helped make up his mind to reinstate Terry.
Barry said: “It was the manager’s initial decision to take it away from John.
“In the players’ minds, they probably didn’t feel it was down to them to give it back to John (on the pitch in Denmark).
“So the only way it should have been done was for the manager to reinstate John and that’s what’s happened and now we are ready to move on.” Barry added: “The players were asked if they were comfortable with it and everybody has been. No-one has spoken to the manager to say they weren’t happy.
“We feel for Rio, how unlucky he has been since being given the captain’s armband with the injuries he has picked up.
“The general sense of the players is we are really comfortable and we know that John Terry is a great leader.
“He did a good job before and I’m sure he can continue that.
“Now the decision has been made, the lads are really comfortable and respect the decision.”
Meanwhile, Phil Jagielka has admitted his England call-ups have brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise frustrating season.
Jagielka is scrapping it out with Michael Dawson, Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott for the right to partner Terry in central defence when England tackle Wales tomorrow.
The Everton player has started every game he was fit for with his country this season, including the opening two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland, when his outstanding displays raised question marks over Terry’s international future.
However, the praise Jagielka has received masked what, for him in particular, has been a troubled time at Goodison Park.
That the 28-year-old has just signed a four-year contract extension proves he has no interest in moving elsewhere. But a combination of niggling injuries and Everton’s inconsistent form has led Jagielka to conclude this has not been one of his better years.
“It has been a topsy-turvy season for the whole team at Everton and I would definitely put myself into that bracket as well,” he said.
“I am quite self-critical.
“I know when I have played well. I don’t need to pick up a paper to see what rating I have got and I have family and friends around to tell me if I need to start livening up and putting better performances in.
“I certainly would have liked to play better over the course of the season at Everton but I have done quite well when I have played for England which is a bit strange.”
Fabio Capello had a chance to assess Jagielka’s form for himself last weekend, when he watched Everton’s home game with Fulham.
The problem now is that only one vacancy exists, with Terry’s reinstatement as skipper effectively sealing one half of the central defensive axis.
Not that Jagielka is complaining.
“John goes about his business the way he has always done,” said Jagielka. “He is the first to smash you in training.
“He is also the first to shake your hand and pick you up.
“He was probably gutted inside when he lost the armband but he never let that show. It does make me smile when you read there is this big divide in the camp. I can’t see anything.
“He is a nice guy. He speaks to everyone. He has no best friends or worst friends. I am delighted to have him as a captain. I have been able to play with him a few times for England and hopefully I will get to play a few more but I am sure whoever the manager chooses will do a good job.”
lEngland rediscovered their ruthless streak last night to end their three-match winless run by thumping UEFA Under-21 Championship hosts Denmark 4-0 in Viborg.
Danny Welbeck, Scott Sinclair, the outstanding Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson all found the net as Stuart Pearce’s youngsters sent out an ominous warning to their European rivals ahead of this summer’s finals.
England pounced on defensive mistakes made by the Danes, for whom Nicolai Jorgensen wrongly had a goal chalked off for offside.