Everton legend Andy Gray has told the Liverpool Echo that Ross Barkley should be treated like Liverpool star Raheem Sterling.
Gray has used the way Liverpool have handled Sterling as an example of how Barkley should be treated by Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park, stressing a need for the club to keep him as fresh as possible.
“(Barkley) should be in the Everton team regularly every time he’s fit,” said Gray.
“If you have to leave him out every now and again like Liverpool did with Sterling, they gave him a little break, that’s what Ross Barkley should be, he should be like Raheem Sterling.”
“He should be playing every game because he is without doubt, I think, Everton’s most gifted footballer.”
Martinez can’t be blamed for wrapping Barkley up in cotton well because of how important he is to the first team, but Gray does have a point that he should be playing as much as possible.
Barkley is still only 21-years-old so the need to rest him as frequently as an older and more established first team star shouldn’t be as great.
The obvious advantage of playing him as much as possible is that it will allow him to improve quickly and maintain a match fitness and sharpness, which is difficult to prolong for any player who finds himself in and out of any team.
The obvious danger is that over playing a younger star can expose them to a greater threat of injury, which sets back progress and momentum which has been created.
Everton are battling to climb back up towards the top six and Barkley is one player who can make a big difference.