Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen has said that Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has the ability to reach the very top of the game. Barkley again impressed for Everton in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Sunday.
Roberto Martinez has incorporated Barkley into the Everton side with ease this season. The midfielder who turned 20 last Thursday was used very sparingly by previous Toffees manager David Moyes. Martinez however has given Barkley an extended chance this season, and it has led to many saying that he should certainly be in the England squad for next summer's World Cup.
I'm sure Alan Hansen doesn't praise Everton players too often, but talking about Barkley he said, as quoted by BBC Sport: "I don't think there's any doubt that if Barkley doesn't get injured he's going to be top of the tree."
It is hard to argue with the Match of the Day pundit, Barkley really has been impressive. It is not just his football prowess however that makes him shine. He has a great deal of confidence for his age, and his mentality to always go forward and not shy away from anything is very admirable.
His manager Martinez has likened him to Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack, but accepts that Ross will need to be given time to fully realise his potential. However that is not to say that he wouldn't be able to make an impact in the World Cup.
We saw in 2010 that Germany put their faith in the youngsters. Mezut Ozil and Sami Khedira were relatively unheard of before that World Cup, but they helped Germany to a semi-final spot. Barkley has shown he is not afraid of anything in the Premier League and I don't see the World Cup being a step too far for him either.
Martinez went on to say "As a country, we need to be a little bit more protective about our youngsters because, if we look after him properly, he can give us something unique in English football and to the nation. I've never seen an English player with that sort of mentality."
Ross Barkley is certainly one of the most exciting English prospects in recent years, and he is also one capable of making an impact straight away. Roy Hodgson would be silly not to take him to Brazil.
image: © isirya