International football stardom holds no fears for former Albion under-16s' star Gareth Barry.

The Aston Villa defender reported for duty with England yesterday and could celebrate his 19th birthday tomorrow by making his debut in the friendly international against Argentina at Wembley.

Coach Kevin Keegan and Villa clubmate Gareth Southgate have no doubts about Barry's ability to perform at the highest level. And the St Leonards-born teenager does not seem daunted by the prospect of an England debut either.

He said: "Nothing is going to put me off playing for my country or being an international star. The attention is something you've got to put up with. That's the sport you're in and you've just got to get on with it. It can be nice to have a bit of attention and to get recognised now and again."

Barry's international call comes after a series of mature performances on the left-hand side of Villa's three-man central defence. He burst onto the Premiership scene last season before being left out by John Gregory as his form dipped, but he has forced his way back in the reckoning this term.

It has been a steep learning curve for Barry who ran into disciplinary trouble with Villa boss Gregory after breaking a pre-match curfew earlier this season.

"That was something that happened and I regretted it," he added. "But the manager told me to get on and concentrate on my football. I think that's what I've done. Hopefully I'm ready to play for England, we'll just have to wait and see. It's just brilliant to be here at the moment because it's another experience for me and one which I'm enjoying."

Southgate, who went to school in Crawley, believes Barry can handle pressures of international football. He said: "The way he's been playing, he shouldn't have any qualms about coming and training with this group of players. There are a lot of younger players in the squad but, these days, young players seem able to cope with things a lot better. When you're that age you just enjoy the game and don't worry too much about outside pressures."

Keegan, who spent most of the day fielding questions about David Beckham, has complete confidence in the young Villa defender. "He finds time and peace in the frantic world of football and that's a great gift," said the England coach.

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