x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Barton staking claim for England place

The Newcastle midfielder is backing up his claim that he should be considered for England with a series of impressive performances.

Before the start of the season Newcastle United's Joey Barton insisted he still had an international career ahead of him after England had flopped at the World Cup.

Given the sequence of controversies that have dogged the midfielder, 29, over recent years - including a spell in prison - such suggestions seemed laughable and the single cap he earned four seasons ago looked likely to be his one and only.

"First and foremost, I want to do well for Newcastle United. But watching some of the performances in the World Cup over the summer I think that on form, I'm as good as anybody in this country," Barton said before a ball had been kicked.

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

The statement does not sound quite so stupid now.

While the left-footed Adam Johnson, who plays at Barton's former club Manchester City, has stated his case, most other contenders to take over from David Beckham on the right of England's midfield have failed to step up to the plate.

And Barton could yet force his way back into the reckoning if he produces more, don't laugh, Beckham-eqsue displays like he did in Newcastle's 2-1 win at West Ham United on Saturday.

Barton dominated the midfield from the right and produced two goal-making crosses from the flank that set up Kevin Nolan's equaliser and Andy Carroll's winner.

It was a big win for Newcastle to ease the pressure on their manager Chris Hughton - for a few days at least with the upcoming Carling Cup clash with Arsenal on Wednesday and then their local derby against Sunderland - especially as bottom-placed West Ham had taken an early lead.