Barkley should be unleashed for England - just not against Italy

The Everton youngster is part of a youthful-looking Three Lions squad that heads to the World Cup in an emboldened mood.

England manager Roy Hodgson must unleash Everton youngster Ross Barkley free at the World Cup - just not against Italy.

Hodgson has won widespread plaudits for his youth-infused squad with an average age of just 26.

The likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, and Barkley himself head to Brazil unburdened by the fear of failure at previous tournaments, and the Everton youngster offers the Three Lions something of an X factor in South America.

He can produce moments of magic from very little, and his direct and powerful dribbling style will always cause problems to any defence, so is it time to let him go and play in Brazil?

Against Uruguay and Costa Rica, yes, but against the Italians in the opening game on June 14, Hodgson should err on the side of caution.

While Barkley has delighted Blues fans throughout last season, one failing placed at his door is his habit of gifting possession away too frequently.

Losing the ball is always likely to happen when you are a creative talent trying to carve out chances for your team, but should England hand the ball to the Italians, then they may go a long time without getting it back.

With Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Ricard Montolivo and Marco Verratti in their ranks, the Azzurri know how to hold on to the ball, and while Barkley's wild abandon may be a huge positive against Uruguay and Costa Rica, England will have to be disciplined against Cesare Prandelli's side.

Barkley's time is fast approaching - but it should come on June 19 against Uruguay, not before.

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