Football: Barry in a hurry to make big time

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND Under-21 coach, Peter Taylor, has revealed that the intervention of Glenn Hoddle has led to Gareth Barry's being put on a fast track to the full international squad.

The Aston Villa central defender will take another step towards the senior side when he plays for the Under-21s at the tender age of 17 in today's international with the Czech Republic at Ipswich.

However, Taylor admitted that Barry was earmarked to play at only Under- 18 level this season before Hoddle, the senior coach, decided that he needed a bigger stage on which to develop. It is another huge step forward for Barry, who was playing in midfield for Villa's reserve team barely six months ago.

This season he has been a first-team regular alongside Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu in Aston Villa's surge to the leadership of the Premiership.

Taylor admitted: "There has been a change in the way things were planned for Gareth because of the progress of the boy. Glenn has seen a lot of him and he is saying that Gareth has done so well that he needs to get into the Under-21s quicker than we ever thought was going to happen."

The Newcastle striker Paul Dalglish has withdrawn from the Scotland Under-21 squad to face their Belgian counterparts at Love Street tomorrow, because of a groin problem.

Not one Premiership player has been selected for a match to celebrate the centenary of the Italian football federation, in Rome on 16 December. Coached by Celtic's Jozef Venglos, the squad is dominated by players competing in Italy's Serie A.