Barrera targets Gold Cup glory

Pablo Barrera is planning to put a frustrating season behind him by inspiring Mexico to CONCACAF Gold Cup glory.

The West Ham United No12 began the campaign in good form, helping the Hammers to reach the Carling Cup semi-finals with a series of impressive displays, only to fall out of favour in the New Year.

Barrera made just four first-team appearances in 2011 as the management chose to utilise other options in the club's ultimately unsuccessful battle against relegation.

For Mexico, however, Barrera remains an important figure and the lightning-quick winger is eager to make his mark for El Tri at the Gold Cup, which is taking place in the United States between 5-25 June.

The 23-year-old has been capped more than 30 times and is expected to be one of the first names on Jose Manuel de la Torre's teamsheet when Mexico open their Gold Cup challenge against El Salvador in Arlington, Texas, on 5 June.

"Regarding this season, it was hard for me not to play," Barrera told West Ham TV. "It was not what I was expecting but when these things happen, you just need to keep working.

"Now I am going to Mexico for the Gold Cup and I am just focused on winning my place in the national team. I hope to be involved and play regularly."

While 2010/11 proved to be a stop-start campaign for Barrera, the Tlalnepantla-born player still enjoyed a number of memorable moments in a claret and blue shirt.

"I enjoyed the game against Manchester United. There's not much you can't say about them. They have great players with a lot of talent. One of my colleagues from the national team, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez], plays there and for him the season was positive."

Before the Gold Cup begins, Mexico face New Zealand in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday 2 June, pitting Barrera against West Ham team-mate Winston Reid.

The winger believes the match against their fellow 2010 FIFA World Cup finalists will prove the perfect dress rehearsal for a Gold Cup competition that also sees Mexico face Cuba and Costa Rica at the group-stage.

"I am looking forward to playing against Winston. He is a team-mate and a very good player so I am looking forward to it. Moreover it's a game for the national team. You need to be at your best if you want to be in the squad for the Gold Cup.

"We have talented players with Mexico. Our team is one that is improving so we just need to prove that on the pitch now.

"We need to do things right as we did in the last tournament. We want to keep the title. It's a tough tournament but we just need to work hard."

While the Gold Cup, which also includes Jonathan Spector's United States, will be a tough nut to crack for Barrera, the same could not be said of a recent English test he took at the Boleyn Ground.

While Spanish remains Barrera's language of choice, the player knows his ability to speak the lingo and communicate with his team-mates will stand him in good stead come the start of pre-season training.

"Yes, I have passed my English test. It was a bit difficult but during the last two weeks I have tried to practice more with my team-mates. This was actually really useful. I am really happy to have passed it!"