Sports

Ross has got Bark for the biggest stage

TALENT: Ross Barkley has impressed at Everton.

Almost everyone in football who has tracked the development of Ross Barkley is convinced the Everton midfielder is a star in the making.

After the so-called “golden generation”of English football proved no better than those that had gone before, there are understandable calls for patience regarding the new crop.

That is certainly the warning given by Everton boss Roberto Martinez but the Spaniard is also aware Barkley is a special talent.

He said: “Ross has incredible potential.We need to give him time and accept he is not ready yet, that he will take time, but he has absolutely everything to mark a real era in English football.

“Any player with talent needs to develop an understanding to know how to be effective. As a country we need to be a little bit more protective about our youngsters, because if we look after him properly he can give us something unique in English football and to the nation.”

Former England striker Gary Lineker has compared Barkley to Paul Gascoigne but it is hoped the former has the mental strength to cope with the growing fame and pressure. Barkley was not spotted by Everton until the age of 11 but once in the academy set-up it became clear he was a bit special, including when he was asked to take four penalties and took two with each foot.

A broken leg put his career on hold just after he had been named in Everton’s first-team squad for the first time but that is where there is a crucial difference between Barkley and Gascoigne.

While the latter was never quite the same player after famously suffering a serious knee injury at Wembley, Barkley has returned to full fitness and quickly put the injury behind him.