The nation is crying out for a certain individual from Merseyside to start on June 14th for England as they open their World Cup with a mouthwatering clash against the Italians.
With Wayne Rooney once the nations call upon, it is the 20-year-old Evertonian who is now on the tip of every Three Lions fan’s tongue. Eager to see him showcase his tremendous ability, even Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has called for England’s Ross Barkley to be “unleashed” against the Italians and beyond.
After a scintillating breakthrough season under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez, Ross Barkley has developed from a raw teenage midfielder to Everton’s midfield metronome. One of many stars in what was a memorable debut campaign under Martinez, Barkley provided the Toffees with even more room for optimism ahead of next season. So just why is so much being made of him starting over the next few weeks?
Granted, Rooney has the pedigree and while he has been lambasted by many for failing to turn up in the big tournaments, the Manchester United star is still a pivotal player under Hodgson. However, in the blistering heat of Manaus, the former Fulham boss may need to call on Barkley to shine.
The powerful midfielder made 34 Premier League appearances netting six goals for the blue half of Merseyside. In games that could be defined by the tightest of margins, Barkley’s lethal profligacy from distance could be a key asset for Hodgson’s troops to have. 50% of his goals were netted from outside the opposition penalty area, which could prove useful with the meanest of defences proving tricky to unlock.
A common trait in his game that fans witnessed so often last season was his tendency to break from deep, causing devastation with his late surges in to the box. He managed to create 25 chances for the Toffees this campaign and with Wilshere and Gerrard likely to hold in the midfield anchor role, Barkley’s productivity going forward will prove a useful asset.
His colossal stature, coupled with his prowess on the ball, means he can offer much more going backwards as well as attacking the opposition. He completed 80/128 take ons for Everton in the last campaign and his swerving swagger on the ball makes Barkley a tough cookie for any opposing defender.
His ball retention is astute and this is evident in how many times he was fouled for the Toffees. In what was a rather injury-hit season, Barkley suffered 65 fouls and with a pass accuracy of 85%, his shrewd hold-up play will be crucial for Hodgson and co. in what will be blazing temperatures in South America.
The 20-year-old star will be feeling the pressure of his first tournament in an England shirt, but after a remarkable campaign on Merseyside it will be little surprise to see Barkley thrive off the spotlight.
Hodgson will perhaps go for Rooney and ignore requests for the young energetic Everton man, but it would be foolish not to keep Barkley involved in the opening game in some capacity. With so much to offer, Hodgson can ill-afford to not unleash the unstoppable Ross Barkley.