Mar 012014

Those admiring Blues seething with indignation at Gareth Barry’s exclusion from the latest England squad may be missing something.

In their perfectly understandable befuddlement at how Tom Cleverley could be called up ahead of the on-loan Everton FC midfielder, they might have overlooked Roy Hodgson inadvertently doing the Toffees a favour.

Yes, Barry’s form has been far superior to the much-maligned Manchester United scurrier, and only Yaya Toure and Jordan Henderson can claim better passing accuracy in the Premier League this term.

But Barry, who won his last Three Lions Cap against Norway in April 2012, has ticked along nicely without international recognition so far during his Goodison tenure.

In fact, that dangling carrot of the summer World Cup could be a factor behind his superlative displays.

This latest snub is not the first time the former Manchester City man has been left frustrated, so it is unlikely to sap his morale.

Barry is not the type either to spit out his dummy or let his head drop.

What it could do is keep him in the right frame of mind to fight tooth and nail for a last-minute seat on the plane to South America in June.

There is time yet for him to change Hodgson’s mind, and he will know the best way to do it is by shining ever brighter in Everton’s final 12 games of the season.

That means instead of being pitched into a friendly in midweek against Denmark when he would be charged with making an impression at all costs, he will be at Finch Farm safely removed from the increased risk of injury ahead of the Blues’ biggest game of the season yet – that FA Cup quarter final at the Emirates.

The Brazil incentive could equally work in Everton’s favour  for those who will be involved at Wembley on Wednesday.

Leighton Baines is virtually assured of his place, but the call-up of Southampton’s talented left-back Luke Shaw will be a timely reminder  that he cannot afford to let his standards drop in the coming weeks.

The chance of a run-out for his country could also shake Ross Barkley out of the slump in confidence which has  perhaps naturally afflicted a player  of such tender years in recent weeks.

For his part, Barry will watch events against the Danes with interest from the comfort of his couch.

It will be a shame if he does not get a chance to prove himself at all for England before the summer, but for now it could well be a blessing in disguise for the club paying his wages.

Pienaar gets Active in Ellergreen Lifestyles

Steven Pienaar will be visiting the Ellergreen Lifestyles centre in Norris Green after training on Tuesday to find out more about Active Me, a National Lottery Funded initiative.

The event will serve as the official launch to Active Me, a three year scheme to encourage adults with learning disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing and blind and partially sighted, to get involved in a variety of sporting activities.

Pienaar will be meeting various representatives from partner organisations as well as the Lord Mayor before finding out more about handball, one of the sports on offer.

Football - Stoke City v Everton - Barclays Premier League - The Britannia Stadium - 1/1/14 Everton's Steven Pienaar in action with Stoke City's Glenn Whelan (R) Credit: Action Images / Andrew Boyers Football – Stoke City v Everton – Barclays Premier League – The Britannia Stadium – 1/1/14 Everton’s Steven Pienaar in action with Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan (R) Credit: Action Images / Andrew Boyers  

Figures show that only 22.6 per cent of people living in Liverpool with a limiting disability – around 3,200 – are involved in physical activity once a week.

Active Me will target this sector of the community, with the intention of increasing interest in sport and recreation and aims to get 200 adults into an active lifestyle by offering them weekly sports sessions in a safe and comfortable environment.

Everton In The Community runs the largest and most respected disability football programme in the world, which provides football and physical activity opportunities for thousands of disabled children and adults each year.

One game for Blues…then a  call-up for Germany

Remember Shkodran Mustafi?

If you’ve just scratched your head and answered no, then don’t worry you’re in the majority.

He only ever made one substitute appearance for Everton and was released on a free transfer by David Moyes in 2012.

Although comfortable on the ball, the German lacked the height Moyes preferred in his central defenders and largely spent his time on Merseyside playing for the U21s under the guidance of Alan Stubbs.

Eyebrows were raised when Sampdoria snapped him up next.

But that is nothing compared to the surprise behind the scenes at Finch Farm to the latest development in his career.

Mustafi has just been handed a surprise call up to the Germany squad by Joachim Low.

Football, as ever, retains its capacity to surprise and beguile in equal measures.

Musical appeal in Goodison Park fanzone

The fanzone outside Goodison Park will have its usual melodic appeal today.

This week it’s the turn of talented local singer – and passionate Bluenose – Gary Barker, who will entertain fans with his cover versions with a twist.

The vocalist and guitarist, who usually serenades drinkers at popular city centre pub The Liverpool on James Street, is due to start his set at 1pm.

If you like what you hear, Gary has an EP out on iTunes in the coming weeks.

More Everton FC news

Kristian Walsh on   three key talking points   before Saturday’s Blues v West Ham clash, while Sam Allardyce says he is   relieved he did not sign Lacina Traore  .

Lukaku returns after month out with ringing endorsement from Blues manager

We have almost run out of Everton merchandise.

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