Ross Barkley has had a wonderful season blossoming in Roberto Martinez's Everton side. Rightly so he was named in the England World Cup squad and on Wednesday he showed that he can be a big player for England this summer.
Despite being just 20-years-old Barkley can command a starting place in the England side, and the country seems to be in support of the Everton player. However Roy Hodgson was quick to play down Barkley's performance against Ecuador. Instead of praising the youngster Hodgson instead said that the midfielder gave the ball away on too many occasions and has a lot to work on until he is at the stage we want him to be.
Hodgson claimed the country had an "obsession with Barkley" and he has a lot to learn. "I think he needs to learn when he can turn with the ball and when he has to keep the ball. But that's quite normal for a player of his age. He'll be quite happy to have played so long on his first start."
“That's not a criticism, but there were other performances out there today who merited your ‘obsession’ more than Ross Barkley's.”
However Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's injury has led to their being a huge opening in the England side now. The Ox is likely to be out for 10 - 21 days and up until his injury against Ecuador he had practically played himself into the starting line-up against Italy with his sharp performance.
With Raheem Sterling missing the next friendly against Honduras due to his red card, he is now unlikely to be starting against Italy. That plays into the hands of Adam Lallana who looks set to occupy one of the wing roles, whilst Sturridge has the striker role nailed down.
James Milner and Danny Welbeck remain options for the attacking wide positions, but neither are exciting but more safe options. This should be the competition where Roy Hodgson takes a few chances though, and we have exciting players in the squad so lets give them the freedom to play.
Wayne Rooney played well on the left against Ecuador and picked up a goal, whilst Barkley in the number 10 role again showed huge confidence and his direct running caused problems for the defence. That sort of running and trickery would cause problems for anyone.
With Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson sat in behind him, he will have the luxury of running forward in the knowledge that they will be there to support him.
If Oxlade-Chamberlain was fit then Rooney could find himself struggling to get into the side. He has said he is happy to play in any position and he has always shown he is keen to play all over the park. Despite their being plenty of pundits saying we should get behind Rooney and even Sir Bobby Charlton saying 'he has to play' Hodgson shouldn't be afraid to drop him.
Countless times Rooney has failed to perform for his country and at the last World Cup even decided to mock the England fans who had travelled to South Africa after a lacklustre 0-0 draw against Algeria. He doesn't automatically warrant a place in the team just because he is England's 'biggest star'. He plays for Manchester United, he is on huge money, but that doesn't make him a huge player. The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has saved his place in the side in my opinion.
Barkley on the other hand should carry on playing behind the striker and this summer he should be able to deliver more than Rooney has previously managed in his two World Cups.