Is this the major obstacle to Liverpool's Everton vs Man City hopes?

Will Everton be able to do a favour for Liverpool this weekend, or will it be Manchester City that go home laughing?

At Goodison Park, 5:30pm this Saturday, it's fair to say the vast majority of football supporters in the city of Liverpool will be hoping for the same thing.

Blue or red, Toffee or Kopite, each and every fan will be hoping for an Everton victory over Manchester City that will see them continue their challenge for fourth position and edge Liverpool FC closer to an even greater prize. That of the Premier League title.

But as the two teams line up ahead of kick off there will be one player missing from the starting lineup of the home side.

Gareth Barry will miss only his third league game since joining Everton at the end of August, and it will be for the same reason as he missed his first game. He will be ineligible to face his parent club City, as a result of the loan agreement between the two clubs. 

The England midfielder, who still harbours hopes of gatecrashing Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, has been an inspired signing for Roberto Martinez, providing the experience and authority for his younger yet supremely talented midfield teammates to dazzle the Premier League with their dominant and attractive play. 

Barry came close to joining Liverpool from Aston Villa before his move to the Etihad in 2009, but his stint with Merseyside's other giant later in his career has proved just how much quality he has at his disposal.

Unlike Thibaut Courtois' appearances for Atletico Madrid against parent club Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, Premier League loanees cannot turn out against the side that possess their long-term contract, something that looks like playing right into City's hands.

It is a rule that has been criticised by both Martinez and Arsene Wenger, and only time will tell how decisive it is at the Premier League summit.

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