Updates from Tuesday, Jan. 28
Ross Barkley has returned to the Everton lineup after a toe injury, the club confirmed:
Everton (to face Liverpool): Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Lukaku, Barry, Barkley, Pienaar, Stones, Alcaraz. #EFCLFC— Everton (@Everton) January 28, 2014
Roberto Martinez talked about the midfielder's rehab earlier in the day, per David Maddock of the Daily Mirror:
He might have an injection because the injury will allow that, but what we can’t afford is to lose him for a longer period.
So it is a possibility he could have an injection but it’s a blessing not losing him for a longer period. It is a possibility.
I could take a measured gamble knowing some players will be back in a few days, like Gerard Deulofeu, who will be back on February 1.
Updates from Thursday, Jan. 23
Barkley remains absent for Everton's FA Cup tie at Stevenage, according to boss Roberto Martinez.
The club's official Twitter feed provided the latest:
RM: "The only difference from the squad v West Brom is Seamus Coleman.” Barkley and Pienaar still out. Watch live: http://t.co/ngGkGEyJm4— Everton (@Everton) January 23, 2014
Updates from Friday, Jan. 17
Roberto Martinez still does not know whether Barkley will be fit for Everton's Merseyside derby, but he revealed the player is progressing quickly.
Everton's official Twitter feed noted:
Martinez: "Ross is recovering well from his fracture but it is still too early to tell how long he will be out for." #EFCWBA— Everton (@Everton) January 17, 2014
Updates From Wednesday, Jan. 15
Barkley and Everton are hopeful the predicted three-to-six-week absence will prove overly cautious, with the Daily Mail's David Kent claiming the midfielder may yet feature in the Jan. 28 Merseyside derby against Liverpool:
The club has confirmed the injury was only a fractured toe - not a broken metatarsal - and Barkley has travelled with Everton’s squad for warm-weather training in Tenerife. The early signs are that he could even have a chance of making the Merseyside derby at Anfield on January 28.
Kent went on to quote Roberto Martinez, who said:
We’re going away to do some warm weather training and that’s going to help Ross to heal his bone and hopefully he’ll get back quicker than we expect.
Knowing Ross, being a young man, hopefully with the sun - a bit of vitamin D intake - it will accelerate the healing process.
Updates From Tuesday, Jan. 14
Sky Sports' confirmed news that Barkley's toe is broken on Tuesday:
Everton confirm Ross Barkley has fractured his toe #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 14, 2014
An FA statement elaborated on the timeframe for Barkley's return:
The club said he had a "small fracture", but could not put an exact timescale on his recovery.
A statement from the club said that, depending on how quickly the injury heals, the 20-year-old could be out for anything from three to six weeks.
Updates From Sunday, Jan. 12
Andy Hunter of the Guardian has a discouraging update on Ross Barkley's broken toe:
Roberto Martínez fears Everton could be without Ross Barkley for up to six weeks with a suspected fractured toe.
"Ross's toe could be broken and he might be out for a while," said the Everton manager on Saturday. "We will assess it to see if there is a displacement. It is very similar to what happened with Leighton Baines. We fear it could be a fracture.
"Sometimes if the problem is well settled, they can play straight away. Otherwise they need a couple of weeks or even longer. Leighton's was a bad one, it took six weeks."
Dominic King of the Daily Mail passed along post-match comments from Toffees manager Roberto Martinez, who said the fear right now is that the midfielder is dealing with a broken toe:
RM 'We fear Ross Barkley has a broken toe. He will be scanned but he could be out for sometime. It is difficult to say how long it will be.'— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) January 11, 2014
Alan Wilson of the Daily Mirror reported before that match that Barkley had a swollen toe on his right foot. Once he wasn't named to the lineup against Norwich, it was clear the injury was a growing concern for Everton:
Everton boss Roberto Martinez is sweating over the fitness of star midfielder Ross Barkley.
The 20-year-old has a swollen toe in his right foot and will face a late fitness test before being rules in or out of the team.
Can Everton continue to succeed if Barkley misses time?
If the club's fears are realized and Barkley is forced to miss several matches, it will be a major blow to the Toffees' Champions League hopes. The central midfielder has been a major part of the club's success since taking on a larger role early in the campaign.
It's also a situation the England national team will be watching closely. Barkley was playing his way into contention for a spot on the World Cup roster. The more he misses due to the injury, however, the tougher it will be for him to convince Roy Hodgson he deserves a trip to Brazil.
More information about his status will be known after he undergoes the aforementioned testing.