Jermaine Jenas defends Ross Barkley, suggests why he is being accused of poor form

The former Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder believes the England international has improved this season despite Everton's struggles.

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas has issued a strong defence of Everton midfielder Ross Barkley on BBC Radio 5 Live, claiming that the 22-year-old has improved this season but is being held back by the club's poor performances.

Barkley has been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award but has been accused by some of putting in anonymous displays on occasion throughout the campaign, despite scoring 14 goals in 51 matches for club and country.

That criticism reared its head again this week as he was panned by some pundits for his non-performance in the Toffees' 4-0 thrashing at rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

However, Barkley was just one player in the midst of a lifeless display on the whole from Roberto Martinez's side, and Jenas has insisted that the England man is a better player this term than he was 12 months ago.

Jenas said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think he's improved this year, Barkley, I do. When he came back from the [2014] World Cup he seemed to have a tough year that year, like he couldn't quite get going. I think he has improved this year. Granted, I think he's probably in line with Everton's performances this year, very up and down.

"I mean, isn't he nominated for young player of the year, Barkley? He couldn't have had that bad a year. I wouldn't say [the fans] are hugely impressed but they're not hugely impressed with their team are they? [Lack of consistency] is what you get from young players.

"I'm not saying he's a kid, I'm saying he's playing in a team that's not playing well and when your;e doing that it makes like a lot harder. You put Ross Barkley in that Spurs team and you might get a more consistent Ross Barkley. He's playing in a tough atmosphere at the minute, especially at home."

Barkley is enjoying the most prolific season of his career to date, with his 12 club goals this term more he has scored in his previous four years as a senior player at Goodison Park combined.

However, he has not found the net in two months as Everton have embarked upon a seven-match winless streak in the league.

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