James Morrison has claimed that former West Brom teammate Gareth Barry’s quality on the ball is “second to none”.

The ex-Scotland international, who ended his own career with the Baggies, has heaped praise on the veteran for his first touch and distribution skills.

The 39-year-old midfielder signed for the Baggies from Everton in 2017, and has made 61 appearances across both the Premier League and the Championship for Albion.

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And when Morrison was asked to name his West Brom squad of the century for the Express and Star, he was quick to include the 53-cap England international in his plans.

He said: “I’ve gone for Gareth Barry. I just can’t imagine what he was like when he was at Man City and in his prime at Aston Villa.

“He is always in the right place at the right time. His touch and passing are second to none.

“And he is also good for a social gathering – that team spirit again.”

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Full credit to Barry, for him to still be battling away in the engine room of a Championship promotion contender at the age of 39 is some feat.

Admittedly, he has seen a lot less action this season, registering just six appearances across all competitions, but nonetheless, he is an impressive talent.

With 653 Premier League appearances to his name since making his debut in 1998 – a record for the division – it is little wonder that Stan Collymore once claimed Barry is a “special kind of player”, or that Slaven Bilic has hyped him up for having an “incredible” career.

There are few, if any, active pros who can boast the experience that Barry has, and even if he isn’t playing as often as he once did, having him around the training ground and the dressing room will be a huge boost for younger talents looking for a role model to focus their own careers on.

And while it might not be fair to judge his output this season off the basis of such a limited number of minutes, as of last year, he was still producing quality output.

In fact, his 2018/19 pass completion rate of 80.2% was higher than Jake Livermore’s average of 78.4% from this season, as per Whoscored.

Similarly, his match rating of 6.70 is higher than Livermore’s own total of 6.67 from the same campaign.

Whether Barry will be able to recapture that kind of form again as he approaches 40 next year remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that he has had a fantastic career that few will ever match.

In other West Brom news, Times journalist: ‘Growing number’ of C’Ship clubs support plan that could hand WBA promotion.


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