City midfielder Gareth Barry says he is hoping to get a run out at some point against some of Aston Villa’s ‘young guns’ when his former club visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
The Blues will host Paul Lambert’s men in the third round of the Capital One Cup and Gareth says he still has very fond memories of this time at Villa Park.
“I still keep an eye on Villa and how they’re getting on,” revealed Barry.
“All my mates are from Birmingham and most are Villa fans, although some are Birmingham City supporters.
“The banter is still there! I spent 12 years at the club, played loads of games in claret and blue and it’s still one of the results I look out for.
I enjoyed my time at the club so much and you don’t suddenly lose touch after all that service.
Barry began his Villa career at the tender age of 16 and so he knows more than anyone what it is like to be just starting out.
With Villa boss Lambert putting so much faith into the club’s home-grown players, the City midfielder believes there will be a lot of highs and lows for his old club this season.
“As a young player coming in, it was great but I was nervous about playing and making my debut,” he recalled.
“Once you’re out on that pitch, you just enjoy it and you get a real thrill about being out there, you just want to stay out there.
“The more you play – after those first five or ten games – you adapt and become more comfortable and it becomes easier so while Villa have had a difficult start, I’m sure when the lads have found their feet they will start to climb the table.
“They have a good manager in Paul Lambert. The job he did at Norwich was fantastic. When I saw the appointment, I thought it was a great move for Villa.
‘“It is a definite step in the right direction for Villa and I think he deserves time to get things right.
“Things don’t change overnight. I have no doubt – having heard about the way he works – that he will turn things round.”
Barry may retain a soft spot for his old club, but there will be no sentiment if he plays against them on Tuesday.
“I had a smile on my face when we drew Villa. I was chatting to James Milner about it and we were talking about how when you leave a club these fixtures always seem to come up in cup competitions,” he said.
That’s football. It brings you back together. I’m looking forward to the game and hopefully I can play against some of these young stars Villa are bringing through.