Barry backs Agbonlahor to shine

England midfielder Gareth Barry is confident Gabriel Agbonlahor has the ability to seize his chance if selected against Belarus in tomorrow's final World Cup qualifier.

Wayne Rooney is injured for the clash at Wembley and with a path to South Africa already secured, boss Fabio Capello could look at Agbonlahor after being impressed by his five goals for Aston Villa this season.

Barry, Agbonlahor's club-mate until moving to Manchester City in the summer, said: "Gabby has hit the ground running at the start of this season not just with his work-rate and the way he plays for the team but he is getting the goals now which he has sometimes been criticised for not doing.

"I'm confident that if he gets his chance, which will be his first chance at home because his previous caps have come away from home, it will be a difficult game for him but one in which he will be capable of doing a good job in."

After leaving Villa, Barry insists City players are prepared for the backlash from supporters after mounting their Barclays Premier League challenge.

Barry, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor have been targeted on returning to face their former clubs, while Joleon Lescott was jeered by fans on his last England appearance at Wembley.

Lescott misses the Belarus clash but City duo Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips are in the squad - and Barry is confident all City players can take this season in their stride.

"It's something we've spoken about among ourselves at City this season," he said. "The people outside of the club may look on us in a different way but it's something the players including myself can deal with. It's important we don't let it affect us.

"A lot of money has been ploughed into the club and people on the outside may enjoy seeing us fail rather than go on and achieve something this season.

"I'm sure that's where the views are coming from but as a unit I'm sure that can help us and make us stronger."

Meanwhile, Barry has sympathy for another Villa striker. Emile Heskey has found his opportunities limited due to the form of Agbonlahor and admitted recently he may have to move to stay in the frame for the World Cup next year.

"I know where his fears are probably coming from at the moment," said Barry. "He's done fantastic for England with his partnership with Wayne Rooney and he is probably thinking about how long it can go on without playing for his club.

"The manager has made it clear that you have to be playing regularly and I am sure it is something Emile will need to think about and the best route to go."

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