Gareth Barry has declared himself ready to restore stability to England's midfield as they prepare for a must-win encounter with Algeria. The Manchester City midfielder has recovered from an ankle injury that had threatened to rule him out of the tournament and, after sitting out the 1-1 draw with the United States, will return to the starting line-up against the Algerians in Cape Town on Friday.
"The ankle has been fine for ten days," Barry said. "Another week's training in the lead-up to the Algeria game and I should be spot on. If the manager had asked me if I was ready to play against the United States at the weekend, I would have bitten his hand off to try and make the starting team. I was desperate for us to go two or three goals up and then he might have thrown me on!"
Barry was overlooked by former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson for the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup™ squads but, having established himself as one of Fabio Capello's automatic picks, he was desperate not to miss out again. "When the injury came, it felt like it was one of those things, that it [playing in a FIFA World Cup] was not going to happen. But it was important I never stopped believing," Barry told BBC Radio.
Sleeping in an oxygen tent speeded the midfielder's recovery, although that was harder work than it sounds. "We had a few hot days in England and the tent was tough to sleep in with the heat," he revealed. "Every morning they were booking me into an oxygen chamber for an hour and a half, getting that in the lungs. They say that speeds up the process of healing. All these things and the treatment they gave me probably got me ahead of where I should have been. But it was always touch and go whether I could make the squad."
Barry's return is expected to mean a return to a more offensive role for Steven Gerrard, who took over the midfield anchor role from the Manchester City star in the match against the United States. That will mean James Milner, who was substituted after only half an hour on Saturday night, is likely to the substitutes bench with Gerrard being given licence to roam forward in support of England's forwards.