Gareth Barry admits helping England on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ is perfect tonic for his Aston Villa agony.
Barry was down in the dumps when he joined up with the England squad last week after Villa's 5-0 thrashing at Liverpool capped a woeful run of results for Martin O'Neill's team. Villa have blown a six-point lead over Arsenal and now sit outside the top four in the Premier League, with the holy grail of a place in the UEFA Champions League in danger of slipping out of reach.
But Barry has been able to put Villa out of his mind for a few days while he focuses on maintaining his place in Fabio Capello's team. He gave a typically unfussy, efficient display in the central midfield holding role during England's 4-0 friendly win against Slovakia on Saturday and is likely to resume that job in Wednesday's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley.
"The last few weeks at Aston Villa have been very disappointing. We're all a bit down considering where we were a few months ago, sitting in third or fourth place with a nice gap," Barry said.
"A lot of the players at Villa hadn't experienced being in the top three in February and only a few points off top place. It's tough sometimes, playing in a team that's struggling to pick up points. But the break will do everyone the world of good, mentally, playing a different style of football and in different teams. It'll do us good."
Although Barry doesn't enjoy the high-profile of some of his England team-mates, his no-frills approach perfectly encapsulates the discipline and work-rate demanded by Capello. He has quietly established himself as a regular since the Italian took charge last year and his Villa performances have improved as a result of the boost to his confidence.
The international football gives you confidence, being made a regular in the England team
"I feel a big part of the squad and the team at the moment. I have done over the last 12 months. The results have been great as well. It's nice to be part of a winning team," Barry said. "The international football gives you confidence, being made a regular in the England team. You feel a couple of feet taller when you go back to your club, knowing you've played for one of the best countries in the world.
"That gives you a lot of confidence to go and play in the Premier League again. This holding midfield role, I've not played it too much outside international football. The whole discipline of playing that role, it's something I'm still learning. Hopefully it can make be a better player playing under the England manager.
"I have to be the one who has to be more disciplined. It's focusing on other players'' movements as well, if you like. With Steve Gerrard roaming around more, it's an area that's going to need covering. You have to cover that left-hand side."
After failing to engineer a move to Liverpool last year, Barry faces a major dilemma at the end of this season. Liverpool are likely to make another attempt to sign Barry, while Arsenal are also interested in the England midfielder.
But he refuses to contemplate the future for now. Instead he is focused on England and then getting Villa back in the top four. "The way we've played this season, there's no reason why we can't get enough points from the last eight games to be there or thereabouts," he said. "Anything after that, I'll deal with at the end of the season."