Barkley 1/1 for England, but needs to oust Lampard or Carrick
Ross Barkley may have not registered a single assist in the Premier League this season, but this has not stopped pundits and alike purring that Everton’s central playmaker could be the future of English football.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has already likened him to Paul Gascoigne in his pomp and there have certainly been a short supply of English players in recent seasons that have Barkley’s sort of awareness, ability with both feet and keenness to take a game to the opposition.
Barkley’s man-of-the-match display against Arsenal, where he created a match-high of three scoring opportunities, will not have gone unnoticed by England manager Roy Hodgson.
It is 1/1 that Barkley makes England’s final 23-man party and the 20-year-old would bring a different set of attributes to his rivals for a midfield squad position.
The obvious problems are who Hodgson would have to leave out to accommodate Barkley and would a change of formation be necessary to get the best out of him?
Although Barkley brings together all aspects of a central midfielder, as he is also tenacious in the tackle and strong in physical contact, he looks more at home and dangerous at the tip of a midfield trio than in the centre of a straight four-man midfield.
Furthermore, Barkley may well have caused serious problems to Lucas Leiva of Liverpool and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta in recent games, his lack of assists have to be considered a negative.
The ideal scenario would involve Barkley breaking the midfield line and then feeding Wayne Rooney to provide the final slide-rule pass.
But if Barkley played for England in the number-10 role in which he has been flourishing for Everton, there may not also be room to include Rooney and Daniel Sturridge.
Logic would dictate that Hodgson would take no more than five central midfielders, with at least one of these able to play as a number 10 if the situation deemed it necessary.
Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere look shoo-ins for the squad, while Michael Carrick’s ability to retain possession makes it hard to believe that he would be left out.
James Milner and Phil Jones are others that can play in midfield if required and their versatility would indicate they are other squad certainties.
This leaves one spot at most for a natural central midfielder, with Barkley battling with Frank Lampard, Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson and Ravel Morrison for the gig.