SPORTS LETTERS : Barnes still central cog

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From Mr J Caswell

Sir: In response to Simon Leavy's letter "Time to bid farewell to Barnes" (Independent, 22 Feb), I notice that the writer is from Guernsey and therefore I assume watches most of his Liverpool action on Match of the Day or Sky's Super Sunday. (As we all know, television can never give the full picture).

This can be the only explanation for the ridiculous and naive suggestion that it is time for Roy Evans to ditch John Barnes. Barnes, for all his years, is still the main cog around which the other 10 components of the new Liverpool machine operate. So what if he is not as fast as he used to be? His brain has not slowed and the team are not yet carrying him.

Liverpool managers, with perhaps one exception, are famous for not putting sentiment before the good of the team. I see no reason why Roy Evans should differ from what he was brought up to believe by his mentors, Shankly, Paisley and Fagan. And it is more often than not one of Barnes' passes that sends Fowler and Collymore on their merry way to goal.

He also brings a steadying influence to the middle of the park and is helping to usher on the burgeoning talents of McManaman, Redknapp, Jones and McAteer. Ask them if, at 32, they think he's past it.

Yours faithfully,

JONATHAN CASWELL

West Kirby, Merseyside

Wilkinson's edge

From Mr T Ross

Sir: In his otherwise extremely prescient preview of Birmingham City's Coca-Cola Cup semi-final first leg match against Leeds United, Phil Shaw stated that Howard Wilkinson had 'no significant advantage' over Barry Fry when it came to experience of preparing for 'big cup ties'.

Mr Shaw seems to have forgotten the fact that Wilkinson took Sheffield Wednesday to an FA Cup semi-final (1986) and Leeds to the last four of the Rumbelows Cup (1991), which surely qualify as 'bigger' games than the Auto Windscreens Shield final to which Fry led the Blues last season.

Yours faithfully

THOMAS ROSS

Handsworth, Birmingham

Letters should be marked "For publication" and should contain daytime and evening phone numbers. They should be sent to Sports Editor, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. They may be shortened for reasons of space.

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