Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has leapt to the defence of Gareth Barry - and expressed disappointment his side will not face Wayne Rooney in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Barry was rested on Sunday in the victory against Sunderland after wearing the skipper's armband for England in the draw with Ghana the previous week.
Despite winning that honour the midfielder has been ridiculed by Joey Barton.
Barton derided the former Aston Villa player, describing him in a French football magazine as "a teacher's pet."
Mancini believes the Newcastle midfielder has little to shout about and said: "Joey Barton is a good player but Gareth Barry is a fantastic player.
"I can say only this. It is a situation that is not important to me."
Barry will be back in contention on Monday when they face Liverpool at Anfield along with James Milner, Edin Dzeko and Pablo Zabaleta.
City will be looking for a boost ahead of their cup meeting with Manchester United the following Saturday but Rooney will sit out that last-four game as his two-match ban for swearing into a TV camera was upheld today.
Mancini expressed genuine remorse the England striker will be absent.
The Italian believes it is better if top players are available, especially in big games.
He said: "I am disappointed because when we play a game like this it is important all the best players play.
"Should the FA punish players in this way? I do not know. I think the managers and players here have a lot of respect for the referee and the FA."
Mancini is still leaving the door ajar for Emmanuel Adebayor to return to Eastlands next season following his loan spell at Real Madrid.
Adebayor has settled in quickly in Spain and scored twice in the 4-0 Champions league quarter-final first-leg defeat of Tottenham in midweek.
Mancini said: "I am happy for him and that he scored two goals. I hope he can continue to score.
"He is a good player. At the end of the season we will see what happens to him."
City will again be without Micah Richards (hamstring) and Jerome Boateng (knee) for the trip to Liverpool.Reuse content