Everton's Wayne Rooney raves about the "massive" Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley of Everton celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on May 12, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

Everton's Wayne Rooney is a big fan of his team-mate.

Ross Barkley of Everton scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on May 12, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Wayne Rooney has described Ross Barkley as a "massive player" for Everton and claimed that he hasn't come across many better footballers than him.

The 24-year-old hasn't kicked a ball for Everton this season following a hamstring injury.

New manager Sam Allardyce claimed last week that the attacking midfielder is close to a return to first-team football in a revelation which should excite Toffees fans.

Ross Barkley of Everton celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on May 12, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

The England international, albeit inconsistent, has been one of Everton's most important players in recent seasons and he might be the finest product of their famed academy system since Rooney emerged as a gem way back in 2002.

And Rooney himself has suggested that he is excited by Barkley's imminent return, claiming that Allardyce - who replaced Ronald Koeman last month - can help him realise his undoubted potential.

"Ross is a fantastic player, really talented, and under Sam [Allardyce], with the players we have in the squad now, it can help him," he told talkSPORT.

Ross Barkley of Everton is closed down by Jan Kirchhoff of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in...

"If we can get him fit, get him back playing, he is a massive player for us. Ability-wise he is one of the best I've seen. It is just about showing that on match day.

"I feel he has the right coaches to show that, and the right players on the pitch."

Barkley snubbed a deadline-day move to Chelsea in the summer transfer window, despite travelling to the Blues' training ground for a medical, and it will be interesting to see if the Premier League champions, or perhaps Spurs, come in for him next month.

His contract expires in the summer, so Everton must either sell up in January or risk losing such a fine talent for nothing.

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch