Gareth Barry has backed Everton midfielder Ross Barkley to regain his place in the England squad.
The 23-year-old was the surprise omission for the World Cup qualifier in Slovakia, where the national team scraped a stoppage-time 1-0 victory.
Barry believes being left out should provide extra motivation for his team-mate, and that will have benefits for Everton too.
“Ross can feel a little bit hard done by,” said the midfielder, speaking at Everton in the Community’s annual charity golf day.
“It’s a tough job being England manager and Sam said it was a really tough decision for him but in terms of Ross now he needs to use that to help him improve and not get down about it but prove the manager wrong and get himself in the next squad.
“In a selfish way for Everton that means him performing well for Everton, so that can only be good for us.
“I trained with him and he didn’t seem too worried about it. He’s got that grit between his teeth that he’s going to prove the England manager wrong so hopefully he can put in good performances with Everton to do that.”
Barry insists the club have to target European qualification this year after back-to-back 11th-place league finishes.
They have begun well with seven points from a possible nine, their best start for a decade, and the 35-year-old believes the changes new manager Ronald Koeman has made will make them more competitive after being criticised in predecessor Roberto Martinez’s last two seasons for being too open.
“The manager made a point in terms of the way he wants the training to change and I could see where he was coming from,” added Barry.
“He likes the hard work to be put in and that’s fair enough. The training is a bit more structured and we’re doing a lot more afternoon sessions to previous.
“His standards are really high; he wants us to keep them and as soon as anybody drops them, no matter who you are, he lets you know so it’s good for all the players involved.
“So seven points from nine, and through to the next round in the League Cup, it’s a great start.
“The club just wants to be playing European football regularly. It’s a huge club and the fans deserve to be seeing European nights every season so there’s no reason why we can’t be targeting those places.”