Midfielder looks to have put the stumble of last season behind him


Last season, it took Ross Barkley 20 Premier League appearances to do what he’s managed in just two this term.

In netting his second goal of the campaign in the 3-0 win over Southampton at the weekend, Barkley has already matched what was a disappointing return for a man of his ability in 2014/15.

Injuries played a part in his drop-off in performance – his first outing of the campaign came in October – but nonetheless, Roberto Martinez would have expected far more than the two top-flight strikes and two assists the youngster offered in 29 games.

That’s why the Spanish tactician has been so quick to heap praise on the attacking midfielder after just a pair of assignments in 2015/16.

“Ross will show for the ball from any angle, he’ll want it, he’ll try to be positive and make things happen for the team. When he gets in the box, when he controls the situation, that is the sign of an incredible footballer,” the Toffees boss said after watching his star player orchestrate an impressive win.

Although the summer has been typically quiet at Goodison Park, the re-emergence of Barkley is as key to Everton’s aspirations as any glamorous new signing.

At 11/4 for a top-six spot with Ladbrokes, the Toffees will hope that the 13-cap 21-year-old’s displays can carry them on to a more encouraging finish than the 11th place they managed in 2014/15.

In combination with Romelu Lukaku, who bagged a brace against the Saints, Barkley can form a devastating attacking tandem for many a year to come with the Belgian.

Barkley provided the pass for Lukaku’s second strike and will have pleased the onlooking Roy Hodgson with his verve and creativity.

With Fabian Delph and Jack Wilshere both starting the campaign injured, there is arguably a starting position up for grabs in the England boss’ side. In a European Championship year where the Three Lions are 12/1 for glory, there isn’t a better time for Barkley to seize that spot.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.