Owen says England wonderkid must start against Italy

Liverpool legend Michael Owen describes Everton starlet Ross Barkley as a “match-winner” and wants him to start against Italy.

Michael Owen believes that England manager Roy Hodgson should start Ross Barkley against Italy in their opening Group D game of the World Cup tonight.

The Everton attacking midfielder enjoyed a breakthrough 2013-14 season and was included in the Three Lions’ 23-man squad for the 2014 Brazil tournament.

The 20-year-old is considered as one of the most promising young English players and has played six times for the 1966 World Cup winners. Hodgson has called upon everyone not to overhype him, but the youngster’s performances in recent friendly matches have added to growing support for him to start against Italy in Manaus.

Barkley’s skills and pace have impressed everyone watching England in their recent games, although there are suggestions that he is too young and inexperienced to start against 2006 World Cup winners Italy at the Arena Amazonia.

Liverpool legend Owen doubts Hodgson would name Barkley in England’s starting lineup tonight, but describes the Everton starlet as a “match-winner”.

In recent days, a number of prominent footballing figures in the English game have given their backing to the idea of Barkley starting against Italy.

Former Manchester City and current Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton recently wrote on social networking site Twitter that the youngster “must” start for England, while Manchester United legend Paul Scholes also urged Hodgson to let him “off the leash” against the Azzurri.

Will Hodgson include Barkley in his starting lineup tonight? Let’s wait and watch.

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