O'Neill: Villa's Barry can match Lampard, Hargreaves

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill believes Gareth Barry has shown he is every bit as good as any of England's top midfielders.

He told Villa's website: "There's hellish competition in there when you look at Frank Lampard and all the rest of those boys in there now.

"That's where England are particularly strong and Gareth is in there mixing it with those, which is terrific. And who's to say he can't come out of it on the other side of it as good as any of them?

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"Gareth went into these games with the confidence of knowing he could compete with these players because he's been doing it regularly and well at that high tempo in the last season.

"There were lots of question marks put against Gareth before. And remember you don't answer everything in one game, you have to do it over a sustained period.

"But the great thing about it in the game is that he's played well enough to be uppermost in the manager's thoughts and that's all you can do."

He added: "He's been splendid ever since I've been here and of course before that. But he was out of the England set-up for so long and only just came back in recently and had been a bit-part player.

"I felt this was major because he came in and played a big, important game. I accept the fact Frank Lampard and Owen Hargreaves were injured - that doesn't really matter.

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