Can Barton Play With Lampard?

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Manchester City midfield dynamo Joey Barton has had quite a week, and it didn’t involve putting out a cigar in some bloke’s eye or exposing his buttocks to some unsuspecting Everton supporters. England hanger-on Terry Venables claims that Michah Richards hasn’t been the only City player getting some special attention from Steve McClaren,

“I know that you’ve got some more lads who are going to push – Joey Barton has done extremely well recently – so we know exactly what’s going on,” stated Venables.

While Barton probably has a decent chance of appearing in a squad instead of perennial fringe players like Tottenham Jermaine Jenas, if he wants to actually play for England regularly he’d have to target the likes of Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who he comes face to face with this Premiership weekend,

“Steven Gerrard is a yardstick for any midfielder because he is as good as anyone else in the world,” said Stuart Pearce.

“He comes from the same neck of the woods as Joey, they are friends and he is definitely someone Joey can measure himself against.”

Of course, it doesn’t matter what Joey Barton does this season or against Liverpool this weekend. The only important factor is whether he can make Frank Lampard in an England shirt resemble Frank Lampard in a Chelsea shirt? Then Gerrard or Andy Johnson can prop up that right wing come Euro 2008.

Ah McClaren, what an improvement over Sven…