It's hardly the sort of image one expects of Gareth Barry being portrayed as one of the Premiership's 'bad lads'.

But two brushes with the football authorities inside a month have earned the normally impeccably-behaved Aston Villa midfielder a rare encounter with the FA's disciplinary department.

No sooner had he returned on Saturday from a one-match ban for five cautions than Barry's red card against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane earned another one-match suspension.

* What do you think? Visit our messageboard and give us your opinion. *

It was only his second red card and keeps the former England defender out of Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Port Vale.

Although Barry's second suspension inside a fortnight is untimely, given Villa's left-side problem, David O'Leary, the manager, would be the first to provide a character reference.

"He's so consistent," O'Leary said. "Without being outstanding, he puts it in every week. He's a lovely boy. The way he trains and everything he does when it comes to preparing for games gives himself every chance of maintaining that consistency of performance.

"He does everything he's told by [sports science manager] Steve McGregor. In fact, he's the first one to get the right food and drink down him after a game, without even being asked.

"It's all about doing things the right way. He's a low-maintenance type of player."

On Christmas Day Barry became a father for the second time.

"It was typical of him what happened with the baby," O'Leary said. "His other half had served the starters and then the main course.

"Then, at about half-four, she said she thought she'd like to go to the hospital. The baby was born about seven, Gareth was back home about nine and he was in the following day to play having had a good night's sleep.

"The only thing that upset him I think was that she wasn't there to serve dessert.

"Typical Gareth. Others would have made a big fuss, and said they can't play. But you wouldn't have heard him asking for any time off. He just goes along without any problems."

Barry even looked unruffled when referee Graham Poll raised his red card on Saturday. It was only two minutes after he had been cautioned for a foul on Aaron Lennon. When he stopped the same player in his path with a deliberate obstruction, he instinctively knew what was coming and was on his way to the tunnel.

The one thing not helping Barry's disciplinary record, as O'Leary acknowledges, is having to fill in at left-back in the absence of the injured Freddie Bouma.

On top of that rare red card, it has brought Barry three cautions in successive matches to a player previously cautioned only four times this season.

Although Jlloyd Samuel is again expected to deputise when both men are out this weekend, Barry is counting the days until Bouma is fit again.

That should help keep Barry out of trouble further forward. A return to his perceived best role, wide left midfield, might end the gap in his England appearances since being a late substitute at the Walkers Stadium against Serbia & Montenegro in June 2003.

Barry said: "My preferred position is in midfield. And although people question that, wherever I play I try to do as good a job as possible and leave the decisions to the manager.

"My form for Villa dictates whether I've still got a chance with England. That is what I've got to concentrate on and l personally feel it's been consistent.

"I do still hold hopes. I'm only 24 and a few years down the line it might be a different answer. A change of manager would give more hope and a better chance."

Clearly one player who will shed no tears when Sven Goran Eriksson leaves this summer - unless the Swede's next port of call is Villa Park!