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 By Mike Whalley

Barry targets top four with Everton

An ever-present for four seasons - in which he won Premier League and FA Cup winner's medals - now Gareth Barry finds himself an outcast at Manchester City.

Gareth Barry insists his focus is on guiding Everton into the Champions League rather than reviving his international career.

The England midfielder believes that Roberto Martinez’s squad are well equipped to push for a top-four Premier League finish after a busy transfer deadline day.

Barry was one of three late signings made by Martinez, arriving on a season’s loan from Manchester City. Striker Romelu Lukaku also joined on loan from Chelsea for the season, while Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy came in from Wigan for £13 million.

Everton ended the day in profit after selling Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United for £27.5 million and Victor Anichebe to West Brom for a fee that could rise to £6 million, and there was the additional boost of hanging on to Leighton Baines, despite United’s attempts to sign him over the summer.

Barry believes that a squad that finished sixth in the Premier League under David Moyes last season can go two places higher under new boss Martinez.

The 32-year-old said: “There are some fantastic teams out there who have spent a lot of money on improving their squads but, looking at the squad here and the ambitions of the club, there’s no reason why we can’t compete for that fourth spot.

“Over the past decade or so, Everton have always been challenging. They broke into the top four once, and they’ve always been there or thereabouts. That’s why I wanted to come here and help the team improve -- certainly this year, and even after that.

“My one target for this season is to improve on last season. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s a new manager, and his ideas may take a bit of time to get across, but it’s been a good start for the club, and I’m sure we can improve on it.”

Barry, whose City contract expires next summer, said he was keen to move to get regular football again after being frozen out at the Etihad Stadium -- and he sees that as a bigger priority than winning back an England place in a World Cup year.

The midfielder has not featured for his country since a 1-0 friendly victory in Norway 15 months ago, when he picked up a groin injury that ruled him out of Euro 2012.

Barry said: “My head has been about wanting to play regularly in the Premier League. Helping my England ambitions is not the main reason I’ve joined Everton. That will come if I’m playing consistently well. At the moment, international football would be a bonus. Playing well for Everton is my main target.

“There was an option to sit out my last year at Manchester City and not really feature at all. That was something I was never going to be comfortable [with]. I’ve always played regularly through my career, and that’s something I want to do here.

“At the end of last season and the start of pre-season, it was made clear to me at City that I wasn’t going to be guaranteed regular first-team football, which I was pretty comfortable with -- I’m 32, I was at a club with a big squad and a lot of players.

“I could have dealt with that but, as pre-season went on, and the first games came up, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t going to feature. That’s when I started to think that it could be time to look elsewhere.

“It all happened pretty late in the end. Over the years, I’ve sat at home watching on deadline day, and the majority of deals do seem to go through late, so I stayed pretty relaxed about it all.

“I was desperate to join Everton. It was a chance to join a great club, and to get more of a chance to play regular football. When you get into that last hour, and there are still a few snags between the two clubs, you do fear the worst, and start to think that you might be going into training with Man City tomorrow. I’m grateful it all went through.

“I’m grateful for four fantastic years at Manchester City. I went there to try to win trophies and was lucky enough to win a couple. It was all good, and I only have good things to say about the club. Now I hope to have success here.”


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