Belfast Telegraph

Barton - I'm worthy of England call

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 but 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."

The former Manchester City player added: "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 City team-mate Ousmane Dabo at the club's training ground in 2007.

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