Gareth Barry thinks that City must kick on over the next few months while international football takes a back-seat.
The England international has been back training with the Blues after playing in last Saturday’s defeat to Brazil, the fourth time this season that much of City’s senior squad have been away from Carrington with their respective countries.
With no international games scheduled until early March, Gareth declares that City can make real progress during the middle phase of the season.
“The first part of the season is always tough if you have international football as well,” says the 28-year-old. “I’ve played in a few games for England plus all the games for City, so in a way it feels like Christmas should be just around the corner. But now there’s no international games until March, and I’m looking forward to getting a few months of solid work in with the lads here. This is a very important period of the season coming up where we need to make things happen.”
Not having the distraction of European football may also work to City’s advantage in Gareth’s opinion as he continues, “In the early part of the season the teams in Europe generally have big squads so they can rotate, but it can take its toll around Christmas. That’s when it could benefit us, we feel fresh right now so if we can steer clear from injuries we will be looking to kick on from here in this next part of the season.”
I’m looking forward to getting a few months of solid work in with the lads here. This is a very important period of the season coming up where we need to make things happen.
Much of the City squad has been back in training all week, which Gareth Barry sees as an advantage going into Saturday’s game at Anfield.
“The manager would probably say himself that there’s nothing worse than 10 or 12 players coming back in on a Friday morning having played two tough games. It’s to our benefit that there has been a few of us in all week preparing for Liverpool. Hopefully the lads that have stayed away longer come back injury-free.
“We look at blocks of fixtures in team meetings and maybe set targets, but in training we just look at it one game at a time. All everyone is thinking about now is the Liverpool game and taking it from there if we can get a good result.”
The resumption of league duties comes after many of the squad, including Gareth with England, were able to train and play in the warmer climate of the Middle East for a few days, which he hopes will pay off in the short-term.
He concludes, “It was a great experience to play in a neutral venue against a great team. From speaking to them, I know that the lads who went to Abu Dhabi enjoyed their trip too, it’s always nice to recharge the batteries in a warm climate and we should all feel the benefit. I think they were a bit more relaxed in their environment than we were with England, but it was good for all of us to see a bit of the sun.”