It was the same old Gareth Barry at Wembley on Saturday - impressive and stable on the pitch, wonderfully composed and modest off it. He is almost too good to be true.

He completed a full match for England for the first time against Israel on Saturday - seven years after his international debut - and finally feels as though he is fitting in. The days of being a bit-part player might be at an end.

The Aston Villa captain played a significant role in two of England's three goals and the only surprise of the match was that the margin of victory was not wider. England's 3-0 victory flattered Israel.

Barry was given a place on the right side of centre midfield, alongside Steven Gerrard, and the ease with which the two players complemented each other gave the impression of a partnership wanting to flourish.

"Playing alongside Steven Gerrard made life so much easier for me," Barry said. "The way Stevie takes the game to other teams certainly helped me settle."

This was only Barry's 11th appearance for England since his debut in 2000 and he has spent the intervening years wondering if he really would make the grade at international level. It does enter your head that your international career is probably over, but people never really stopped talking about it," Barry said.

"It was probably my best game for England and my first 90 minutes in my preferred position, central midfield. People will say that Israel were poor, but I got a lot of the ball and enjoyed it out there.

Steve McClaren, the England head coach, has taken his time to full appreciate Barry. It was injuries to other players, rather than McClaren's gift for tactics, that gave Barry a place in the team. That mattered not in the end for England have not looked this impressive since the early days of the McClaren era.

"I knew we had players in that dressing-room who were good enough," McClaren said. "The likes of Gareth Barry were excellent. Barry has quality and showed he could handle the stage, the big occasion."

McClaren would not be drawn on team selection for the match on Wednesday against Russia but auguries are good for Barry. "We made it a comfortable win against a difficult side," McClaren said. "Russia will be as tough and we need the same performance. We've set a standard and have to do it again on Wednesday."