Joey Barton: 'I'm worthy of England place'

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Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton believes his form this season has warranted an England call-up and insists his absence from the national team set-up must be for non-football reasons.

Barton has been impressive for the Magpies this season as they have acquitted themselves well on their return to the Premier League and he feels he is playing as well as anyone in the country at the moment.

He thinks his reputation as a trouble-maker precedes him now, and claims this is why he has not figured in England boss Fabio Capello's squads this season.

He told Sky Sports Soccer Saturday programme: "I don't think anyone's playing better than me in the country. That's an honest answer, not a big-headed answer.

"I'm a keen football fan and watch football and there are probably six or seven midfielders getting in the squad for an England game and I certainly don't think there are two players playing better than me - English players - at the minute.

"But obviously with me it's not all about football, is it? When Fabio Capello came in he said he was going to pick form players and I don't think he's done that."

Barton incurred a three-match ban earlier this season for a punch on Blackburn winger Morten Gamst Pedersen. He has been involved in a number of incidents away from the pitch during his career, having previously served two months of a six-month prison term for an assault in Liverpool in December 2007.

In July 2008 Barton was given a four-month suspended sentence for an attack on then Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo at the club's training ground in 2007.