Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton believes he has finally rediscovered the form that prompted his £5.8m move from Manchester City in June 2007. "I spoke after pre-season how good I felt," the 28 year old told BBC Newcastle.
"I never doubted that I had football ability, but it was just being fit enough to show it and now I am."
Barton added: "I was always confident through everything that I was a better player than I was when I was playing for England.
"In the coming months it's up to me to prove that. Thankfully I've had the opportunity to prove it in a good team."
Newcastle's decent start to the Premier League has impressed pundits, who expected the Magpies to struggle, as did the bookmakers who had odds of around 11/4 on a season of struggle at St James' Park.
"There's a lot of lads in our dressing room with ambitions and people to prove wrong," Barton continued.
"And we have as a squad, because of the way everyone wrote us off before a ball had even been kicked."