Club Focus – Newcastle United – Pardew calls for players’ international recognition

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes midfield duo Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton deserve a call-up to the England national team. The pair have both enjoyed a successful season up to now and have gone some way to proving their doubters wrong. Between them they have received just the one international cap, which came for Barton back in 2007. Later this month, England face Wales in a Euro 2012 qualifier and it would be a major surprise if any Newcastle players are included in the squad. There is a feeling among north-east football fans that Fabio Capello has little interest in the region’s clubs. He has very rarely travelled north of Manchester to watch games and recently praised Darren Bent for moving from Sunderland to Aston Villa.

Pardew told the Evening Chronicle: “The problem with England is they are always thinking of building a team, and I absolutely disagree with that. For me, it’s about picking your best 11 players. If that’s the case, Kevin and Joey deserved to be involved.” The Liverpool born pair certainly have a case for receiving a call-up on the basis of their recent form. Nolan is the joint-top English scorer in the Premier League and easily the highest scoring midfielder. Perhaps a lack of pace will always count against him despite his goalscoring credentials, and Nolan has distanced himself from an international call-up in recent interviews. The other contender, Barton, has notched up six assists with many of them coming in tandem with Andy Carroll, who may soon be an England regular. He has managed to redeem himself to the Newcastle faithful but his bad boy tag will stay with him forever. In other international news, striker Leon Best has been called up the Republic of Ireland squad for their double-header.

Pardew has also spoken of his desire to keep Barton at the club for the remainder of his career. Barton has just over a year to run on his current deal and so far no agreement has been reached between club and player. Further talks are expected to be held in the summer despite rumours surrounding Barton’s future with his current employers. Pardew believes that he has a good relationship with one of the most complex characters in the modern game. Speaking about Barton’s character he said: “Joey is not a normal footballer, he is quite eccentric. His eccentricity extends to his game too and he does things on a football pitch that are eccentric at times. That’s what makes him the player that he is.” So long as Barton can keep up his up-turn in form, Newcastle will feel it is worth holding onto a personality who is something of a maverick. The number seven is in line to return against Stoke at the weekend following a three week lay-off.

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