JOEY BARTON admits that the cold shoulder from Fabio Capello is giving him the ammunition to prove the England boss wrong.
Barton has consistently been the in-form English-born midfielder in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons but the QPR captain, who sparks controversy and hatred in equal measure, cannot get near the national squad.
Capello has reservations about Barton’s temperament saying he feels he could get sent off and, if reputation is anything to go by, he could be right.
A series of shameful incidents ended with him serving 77 days in prison for a drunken assault in 2008 but since his release he believes he has turned his life around.
Where once his idea of fun was stubbing out a cigarette in an apprentice’s eye the reformed bad boy is now likely to be found wandering around the National Gallery, with Monet his favourite artist.
More than half a million followers read his musings – with quotes from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche – on Twitter.
But his growing popularity in cyberspace is not shared by England manager Capello – and Barton has not been on the international radar since winning his solitary cap for the 12-minute substitute appearance against Spain under Steve McClaren in 2007.
Past misdemeanours weigh heavily against him – no matter how well he plays Capello continues to ignore him even though he has been without the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere because of injuries.
Barton said in an interview to the UK media: “If the team was picked on form I’d have been picked 18 months ago. It’s obvious it’s not. So I’m not going to sit and moan about it.
“I see people playing there who I think I’m better than, that’s my opinion. It’s a game of opinions and, at the end of the day, the only person whose opinion counts is Fabio Capello and he doesn’t think that.
“I saw the article in which he said I was too dangerous to play for England because I play cards and that kind of thing. I didn’t totally agree with it – of course – but a couple of weeks later I pulled Gervinho up. So I go and confirm it for him.
“If I’m deemed good enough to be selected then so be it. All I can do is perform on a Saturday and I believe I’ve done that for the last two years.
“I thrive on proving people wrong. Capello’s done me a massive favour. Given me the perfect ammunition to go out and perform.
“I’m English, I’ve got a wealth of experience and I just want the opportunity to prove it. If I get a chance and I’m not good enough then I’m not good enough.”
He has an opinion on most things including Carlos Tevez refusing to play for Man City where Barton spent 10 years. He said: “I’ve heard stories of players not refusing to come on but refusing to play. It was only a matter of time before this happened at City.
“You have got 10 places, because Joe Hart is nailed in, and you have got 22 or 23 world-class players competing for them. So it was only a matter of time before one of them threw their toys out of the pram.
“If City want to get arsey about it they could probably say to Tevez: ‘We will hold the registration for the remainder of your contract and we will pay you, but you don’t play’.”