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Everton's season is over but some of their players still have a World Cup campaign on the horizon, and Toffees boss Roberto Martinez says England need to temper their expectations of midfielder Ross Barkley. The 20-year-old has been one of the stars of the season, and England fans believe he could continue his form in Brazil this summer, but Martinez has called for calm.
"We shouldn't expect Ross Barkley, at the age of 20, to go into a World Cup and be someone who has to win games single-handedly. That would be very wrong," Martinez said. "What is important is, as a nation, we have a responsibility to look after a young man who goes to the World Cup with the only intention of helping England be as good as they can.
"He is still young and we have to protect him. If we protect him well we are talking about a potential world-class talent. But it is down to us to allow him time and a little bit of a path to fulfil his potential with England," added the Spaniard.
Barkley's superb season has been largely down to the influence of manager Martinez, whose style of football has received plaudits throughout the season. However, midfielder Leon Osman has admitted that some of the squad were sceptical over the tactics put forward by the former Wigan boss.
"At first we thought we were too expansive and opening up left us vulnerable to being done on the counter-attack, but we quickly learned how to deal with that and it has been positive," Osman said, "It is a style of play that is possession-based and a player like me is going to prefer being on the ball than having to chase after it.
"We all embraced it from the start. We are a good bunch of lads, an open bunch that are not set in our ways by any means. We were very open to what the manager wanted to do," the midfield added.
Martinez's fantastic debut season has expectations high ahead of next term, where Everton will be competing in the Europa League after a fifth place finish in the Premier League. In order to have an equally successful season, Martinez needs to strengthen his squad this summer and has been linked with a £19.5m swoop for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez - who is also wanted by Liverpool and Manchester United.