Gareth Barry: 'Never say never' on a return to Aston Villa
Villa legend Gareth Barry has refused to rule out one day making a return to the club he served for 12 years.
The midfielder turned 36 last month but, having signed a new one-year deal at Everton before Christmas, is expected to spend another season on Merseyside – where he would likely top Ryan Giggs’ all-time Premier League appearance record.
The former Villa Park skipper – who has 53 caps for England – is just 14 appearances shy of the Welsh wing icon, 365 of his league games came in claret and blue before he departed in 2009, joining Manchester City for £12million.
And Barry – who admitted a strong affection for his former side – by no means ruled out one day making a return to the club, where he won an Intertoto Cup in 2001 and helped to secure two sixth-placed Premier League finishes before leaving.
“I do get that asked a lot,” he laughed. “You never say never but Everton is my sole focus at the moment.
“I look out for their results all the time. The majority of my friends are from Birmingham and supporting either Villa or Blues.”
Boss Steve Bruce’s positive start as Villa chief was followed by a run of nine Championship clashes without a win.
But victories against Derby, Bristol City and Rotherham eased lingering Villa Park doubts.
Barry, a Premier League and FA Cup winner with City, is a huge fan of Bruce and believes the former Blues, Wigan and Sunderland chief will build a side ready to compete with a return to the top flight.
“It’s good to see Steve Bruce there,” added Barry, who was a trainee at Brighton before joining Villa.
“He’s started really well, obviously they had a little sticky patch but I’ve got a lot of faith in Bruce – he’s a fantastic manager.
“I think they’re finding their feet again. They had a few tough years with the relegation, it was always going to be hard.
“They just need that bit of time to settle and I believe that Steve Bruce is the right man to do that.
“He’ll eventually get a squad that’ll find its feet and from their they’ll start pushing back towards promotion.”
Barry has made 24 appearances in all competitions for Everton this season. His league total stands at 618, the next highest active player is John Terry, who has made 488 Premier League appearances.