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Joey Barton: I'm as good as anybody in England

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton says that he can force his way into the England squad after claiming that he is ''as good as anybody in the country''.

Barton appeared in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Spain in 2007, but saw his international ambitions crushed by a combination of injury and off-pitch incidents that ultimately saw him spend time in prison for assault.

However, having watched England struggle at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Barton now believes that he could be the answer for coach Fabio Capello if he can regain his form.

"For me, first and foremost I want to do well for Newcastle United," Barton told the Evening Chronicle. "But watching some of the performances in the World Cup over the summer I think that on form, I'm as good as anybody in this country.

"I don't say that lightly and I have to go out and prove that, but surely every midfielder in this country should be thinking like that? They should be looking at it and saying, 'That's where I want to be and that's where I can go'.

"That's my goal, and if I break into the England squad, it proves that I am doing fantastic for this football club. Firstly, I have to do well for Newcastle, though."

Barton struggled with injury as Newcastle sealed their place back in the Premier League for 2010-11, but thinks that he has progressed as a player since the club were last in the top flight.

"At the end of the day, I was an England international as a box-to-box midfield player," he added. "I don't say this lightly, but I'm a much more rounded footballer now than I was when I first signed for this club. Injuries have restricted my chances to show that.

"If I can sustain fitness for a long period of time, I'm very confident of finding the form that got me in the England squad."

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