Barton targets England recall

Newcastle United hardman Joey Barton has claimed that he is good enough to make a return to the England national side.

Barton, 27, has so far won one cap for his country, coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Spain in 2007.

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However, the Magpies' midfielder has acknowledged that he will need to break into the starting XI at St James’ Park first.

"First and foremost, I want to do well for Newcastle," Barton told The Shields Gazette.

"But after watching some of the performances in the World Cup, I think, on form, I'm as good as anybody in this country.

 I don't say that lightly – I have to go out and prove that – but surely every midfielder in this country should be thinking like that.

"They should be looking at it and saying 'that's where I want to be, and that's where I can go'. That's my goal. And if I break into the England squad, it proves that I'm doing fantastically for this football club.

"Firstly, I have to do well for Newcastle, but, as I say, every midfielder at this club should be thinking like that – Danny Guthrie, ‘Nobby’ Nolan and Smudger (Alan Smith)."

Barton, who suffered with injuries as Newcastle gained promotion last season, is hopeful that England’s failure in South Africa will lead to a shake-up at international level.

"They were built up to do quite well and I thought they would do quite well," he said.

"People are going to chip in with their opinions, but none of us know [what happened]. None of us played in that atmosphere, or played in that pressure.

"As an Englishman, it wasn't good. Hopefully, this can force the game to change, and they'll stop picking big names, and instead pick players that are playing well.

By Ian Woodcock

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