Football: Barry buoyed by brisk elevation

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The Independent Online
THE RISING Aston Villa player Gareth Barry admits he is on a never- ending learning curve in a season where he has gone from being an unknown to one of the most promising young footballers in the country.

Barry, still only 17, made a promising England Under-21 debut against the Czech Republic at Portman Road on Tuesday night after he was promoted from the Under-18s at the insistence of Glenn Hoddle. However, Barry is refusing to get carried away with his fast track towards the senior international side and is content to absorb as much knowledge as he can.

He said: "It was another good experience for me. It seemed like a big step up from the Under-18s and it was quite hard getting used to new defensive partners.

"It was different from playing in the Premiership and I found it hard to adapt. We were pushing bodies forward all the time and the Czechs were very good at counter-attacking very quickly and leaving us exposed.

"The guy did well to get past me and put a good ball across for their goal. I was a bit disappointed but that's the way things go sometimes. I try to stay relaxed. That's the way I play."

Meanwhile, Kieron Dyer has admitted he may have to play out of his favourite position if he is to achieve his dream of a call up into Hoddle's senior squad.

The Ipswich star prefers the midfield position in which he regularly operates but believes that his England Under-21 wing-back role offers his best route into Hoddle's plans for the future. And he admitted that he has been spurred on to emulate the breakthrough of his Ipswich colleague and friend Richard Wright.

However, Dyer looked more impressive when he switched into the centre of the park for the second half of Tuesday night's match. He admitted: "I feel more comfortable in midfield. I play there for my club all the time and it is my favourite position.

"I got on the ball quite a lot and I was pleased with my performance in that 45 minutes. But you will play anywhere for your country and I'm happy to play wing-back. I've played there on a number of occasions and in all honesty I believe that represents my best chance of getting into the full England squad.

"There are very few wing-backs around and Glenn Hoddle wants to play with that system. It is my best opportunity of making the next step up."

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