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Barkley must back up boss’s claims to secure World Cup spot

| 18.03.2014

Roberto Martinez believes the performances of Ross Barkley during his breakthrough season at Everton are good enough to merit inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s final 23-man England squad to travel to the World Cup in Brazil.

“Is Ross ready to give something to the England squad? The answer is yes. You just need to understand that there has to be a role that the manager wants you to fill,” said Martinez.

“If the manager wants to bring more experienced players to play in a certain way, my answer is that Ross is ready to fulfil his potential. He is quite unique in what he brings to the game.”

Had these claims been made around Christmas time, then few would have argued with the Toffees boss, as Barkley’s fresh-tasting cocktail of guile, fearless running and passing ability had onlookers slurping unanimously in their praise.

However, after being forced into spending the majority of January on the sidelines, Barkley’s return from injury has so far seen the 20-year-old struggle to attain the heights which appeared to be driving Everton to a possible top-four finish.

Starting with his comeback game in Everton’s Merseyside-derby humbling at Anfield, the precocious midfielder has failed to complete any of the Toffees last eight games – which include being hauled off when starting half of those.

The correlation with Everton’s sliding fortunes has been notable also, as an FA Cup quarter-final exit followed further losses to rivals above them in the table which has left them nine points adrift of fourth and rated as highly improbable 20/1 long shots to finish in the top four.

Meanwhile, Barkley’s own odds of 8/11 to make it into Hodgson’s final World Cup party are surely under threat unless he rediscovers his magic touch in the last 10 games.

If he does, Everton can overhaul Tottenham in fifth and England will be richer for his presence in Brazil.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.