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Barry ready for home straight charge

18 February 2019

Gareth Barry says he and his team-mates are chasing a potentially "fantastic achievement" in returning the Club to the Premier League.

Fresh from leading the Baggies to victory at his old Villa Park stomping ground - and receiving a standing ovation from both sets of supporters in a memorable salute - Barry admitted the scars of last season are driving the team on. 

The Baggies remain in hot pursuit of the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion spots and get the chance to edge closer to their target when they return to action in the rescheduled game at Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night.

They will be in good heart after that commanding performance at Villa and Barry says the desire to repair last season's damage runs deep in the Baggies dressing room.

"I'm speaking ahead of what could happen here but getting back to the Premier League could be a great achievement on the back of last season," he said.

"To take on this challenge when everyone was at their lowest point and to bounce back - it would be a fantastic achievement to bounce back.

"There's a big part of me that wanted to stay around and not just run away after relegation. I wanted to take responsibility as well as a lot of other players who have stayed around this season.

"We're all part of the relegation team and we're working hard to try to get us back up which isn't easy. You only have to look at the other teams that came down and see the scale of the challenge. 

"We've got to go right to the end and keep working."

And his first taste of the Championship is not disappointing him just as his performance levels show no sign of waning as he approaches birthday No.38.

Respect for the former England man ran through both camps on Saturday and Barry admitted he savoured the performance and the ovation he received from Albion and Villa fans alike.

"I must admit it was a bit strange leading out Albion at Villa Park but as soon as the game kicked off you just get on with the job," he revealed.

"It was a great feeling to be honest... you don't know, I may never play at Villa Park again so I was happy that I went off in that way.

"There's no better feeling than winning a football game whether it's in the Championship or in the Premier League. 

“I wasn't disappointed, playing in the Championship was something I was looking forward to and I'm enjoying it.

"I'm genuinely enjoying my football. The manager and coaching staff are really good and they understand where I am at at this stage of my career. I can't train and play every game and they are looking after me.”

He also felt that the manner in which Albion shut down the game in the second half was encouraging.

Barry added: "It was a good sign that the team we can do that. In certain games this season we've probably been a bit too open in the second half and conceded goals when we've been leading.

"We showed great character, kept our shape, restricted them to a couple of half chances really. Sam didn't really have a lot to do."


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