There is absolutely no doubting the credentials of Everton youngster Ross Barkley. At just twenty-years-old he already has full international honours and has become a key part of Roberto Martinez’s midfield as they look to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
Perhaps it is the fact that he has become such an integral part of the side, that his post Christmas dip in form was so noticeable.
Barkley’s start of the season was nothing short of electric. He scored his first Premier League goal on the first day of the season against Norwich and by September he was given his first England cap by manager Roy Hodgson.
The Merseyside born midfielder had featured for Everton in previous seasons but following loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds last season, he began to mature and Martinez had no problems putting him into his starting XI over the likes of experienced players such as Leon Osman.
However, in recent weeks, question have been asked about whether Barkley, who has played more games this season than any other in his past, was beginning to burn out.
Although he wasn’t performing bad on the pitch, his energy levels weren’t quite at the same peak as the start of the season and Martinez opted to leave Barkley out of his starting line ups, including for the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea at the end of February.
Barkley was recalled for the 3-2 win over Swansea at the weekend, scoring one and setting up another, receiving widespread praise for his performance with many pundits saying that he looked back to his early season best.
Despite some of the concerns over his fitness, he also started three days later away at Newcastle, running the show as Everton cruised to a 3-0 win to put them back into contention for the Champions League places.
Barkley got himself on the score sheet again, with a superb solo effort, taking his tally for the season to six in all competitions and gained special praise from his manager, who insists that his young talisman should be in England’s World Cup squad this summer.
“I know that Ross Barkley will be a phenomenal footballer for England. He can do things only top players can do. I don’t think he has a like-for-like as a footballer.”
However, Martinez does admit that this season has been a lot for the youngster. “If the national team manager believes he needs Ross, he will be ready; if not, he will have a good summer,” he said.
“He needs to regenerate and recover after what has been his best and most demanding season as a professional.”
So what lies ahead for Ross Barkley? If he keeps up his current form, then I think there can be no arguments against his potential inclusion in England’s World Cup squad. Despite his young age, he has a wise head on his shoulders and if the call comes, expect Ross Barkley to be ready.
Big things are expected from the youngster who has been compared to Gazza.