Ross Barkley was left out of England’s squad for the European Under-21 Championships this summer as Roy Hodgson required his services in the senior team.
The Everton man has become a regular at international level despite not playing to his true potential in a Toffees shirt. He was given another second half cameo appearance in the bore draw against Republic of Ireland at the weekend.
However, Barkley failed to deliver a game-changing performance, something which is becoming a theme for him in an England shirt.
For a man whose dynamism and ability on the ball has been compared to a certain Paul Gascoigne, the 21-year-old has been extremely under-whelming in his career so far.
He has shown flashes of brilliance but has never shown any sort of consistency, leading to doubts that he will ever develop into his undoubted potential. It does not help that Hodgson himself has doubts over his ability to play in a deeper midfield position in a 4-3-3 formation.
The England boss currently prefers the other options at his disposal and will pick between them for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia.
Hodgson told the London Evening Standard, “At the moment for those three midfield positions at the moment I will choose between [Jack] Wilshere, [Jordan] Henderson, [James] Milner and [Fabian] Delph for the next game.
“I don’t want to try to push Ross Barkley into another position other than one of those three positions, or one where I don’t think he is capable of playing or feel comfortable. He has never played wide, he has never done that. He has to knock one of those four off his perch, that is his job.”
Barkley’s 13 caps have only included two starts but Hodgson was quick to refute claims that he does not trust the Everton midfielder yet.
He continued, “I think we have been really good in our handling of Barkley. We have done well for him because once again he has had 20 to 25 minutes playing in an international and with the best will in the world you couldn't say the reason I have chosen him is because he has been fantastic in the latter games of the season for Everton.
“In fact, he hasn't even got into the team, so I think we have done pretty well by Ross. We do believe in him. We do think he is a fine player. At times, I have kept faith in him and kept playing him even when he is not playing in his club team.
“I don't think we could do more than that. But it's up to him when he gets the chance. He came on against Italy and nearly helped us win the game. He came on today and didn’t help us change the games but that's what young players can be like.
“We were hoping we would see another Italy-type performance from him but he wasn't able to produce that [against Ireland]. That doesn't mean to say we have lost faith in him. Quite the opposite, we will always have him in mind because we think he is a game-changer.”
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