West Brom's Gareth Barry tips Romaine Sawyers to be Premier League star
Gareth Barry believes Romaine Sawyers has what it takes to be a Premier League success – but cannot believe the midfielder has not yet reached the top flight.
Veteran midfielder Barry, holder of the Premier League appearances record, has been keeping a close eye on summer recruit Sawyers.
And the 38-year-old believes Birmingham-born Sawyers can excel in the top division having come up against him in training while battling back to fitness from a serious knee injury.
Barry said of Sawyers: “I was well aware of him, he came through the academy here and people spoke very highly of him.
“The one thing I can say having seen him first hand is how has he not played in the Premier League?
“He’s well into his 20s now, and a player of the ability he’s got on the ball, and the way he reads the game, you’re asking yourself how he hasn’t been tried and tested in the Premier League?
“I’m sure that’ll be an ambition for him, and if he keeps playing in the same way this season, that won’t be too far away. It’ll be exciting to see players like that try their hand in the Premier League.”
And Barry believes the flourishing central partnership between the 28-year-old and Jake Livermore can only help Sawyers’ performances.
“He’s got a great partner in Jake Livermore, because I’ve played alongside Jake and he’s a great team player.
“That will help Romaine settle in his role and they’ve been playing well together and they complement each other. That’s been a big part of the team’s success.
He feels really comfortable here. It’s been a good fit, a good move for him at his age.”
And former Villa, Manchester City and Everton star Barry admits he has a battle to displace either of those two with Albion flying high at the summit of the Championship.
“My aim after the injury was to get fit,” he said. “The bonus for me being with the lads is that I’ve seen them climb to the top of the league and I’ve timed things well!
“Would I rather be in a team that is struggling, or would I rather be in a team that’s top of the league?
“In terms of getting a place in the team, that wasn’t on my list of priorities on day one. My aim was to get fit and then on the professional side of things you’ll naturally challenge for a place.
“I’ll do what I’ve done throughout my career, train hard and try to impress the manager.
“The manager made it clear to me – and I know it anyway – that whatever I’ve done before counts for nothing. It’s what I can do now that matters, and that’s how it should be.
“Let’s see what happens. My main aim is to help the squad and if that’s coming off the bench, or being around the squad, I’m just grateful to be back.”