Martinez backs Barkley for World Cup
LIVERPOOL -- Everton midfielder Ross Barkley will not be fazed if he is thrown into the heat of England’s World Cup battle this summer, according to his manager Roberto Martinez.
O'Farrell: The right balance
The Toffees boss believes the 20-year-old is one of the brightest young talents of his generation.
Barkley has established himself as a first-team regular at Goodison Park this season, but has struggled for form since recovering from a broken toe sustained in January.
His performance as Everton beat Swansea 3-2 in the Premier League on Saturday suggested he is getting back to his best.
And having won his first three England caps this season, he is a contender to go to Brazil this summer with Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
Martinez said: “If he was picked, it wouldn’t faze him, that’s for sure. Ross is in a situation where he’s enjoying every day’s work, and he’s developing into a very fine footballer.
“In my eyes, he’s potentially one of the best English talents we’ve seen in a long, long time, but he’s not the finished article.
“If he is going to be involved in the England set-up, as he has been recently, that will be a terrific experience for him.
“The only thing Ross has in his head is to play as many minutes as he can for Everton from now until the end of the season. Whatever happens in the summer will be a welcome situation.”
Barkley had made only a handful of Everton appearances before Martinez replaced David Moyes as manager in June last year.
The midfielder gained experience last season with loan spells in the Championship at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, before making his major breakthrough at Goodison Park this term.
“Ross is developing into an incredible footballer, and the national team will have the opportunity to use his abilities,” Martinez said. “When that’s going to happen is down to the England manager.
“The important aspect for Ross is that he’s had such a demanding season. It’s been the most demanding season of his career. Now he’s come back really strong in the final third of the season after the injury he had.
“It’s incredible how he’s refreshed himself. I think the two performances he’s put in -- the one in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and the game against Swansea -- have shown that he’s ready to finish the season really strongly.
“He’s ready to help England if he’s needed. But we have trust in the England manager to make the decisions he needs to make.”
Barkley is set to play a part as Everton seek their first away league win of 2014 at Newcastle on Tuesday.
The Toffees have won their last six home league games, but have collected only two points from five away matches since the turn of the year.
Martinez’s side lie sixth in the Premier League, which would be enough for a place in next season’s Europa League.
They retain an outside hope of qualifying for the Champions League, as they are eight points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in hand and nine to play.
But the manager is adamant that the away results must improve if that hope is to be maintained into the closing weeks of the season.
He said: “What’s important is that we carry on with the incredible run of home form and take that into the away form.
“We’ve taken full points from our last six home games, and that is a terrific run.
“We’re looking at how many points we can get. If you want to get into the Champions League, you have to get over 70 points. If we get anywhere near that figure, we can look at where that will take us.
“The away form is not a frustration. It’s important we learn from it and assess it. When you face the top five teams away from home, it’s going to be difficult.
“But the performances have been very, very good. At Stamford Bridge, we conceded a goal well into injury time. The performances have been brave and give us the chance to develop into a side who can get a result anywhere.
“We’ve been able to get points. Now it’s important we get as many as we can in a really strong run over the final nine games of the season.”
Martinez added that captain Phil Jagielka is back to full fitness after missing four games with a hamstring injury, but has yet to decide whether to bring him back against Newcastle.
“It is now about making sure we are not taking any risks,” Martinez said. “We will make a decision tomorrow.”