4 Things Ross Barkley Must Do at Everton to Nail Down an England Start
Ross Barkley's 2014 FIFA World Cup was over almost as soon as it began.
Championed by many to play a key role in Brazil, his cameo appearances weren't enough to prolong his country's stay.
Barkley appeared for just 29 minutes against Italy and 26 minutes against Uruguay as England suffered early elimination.
However, a start in the dead rubber against Costa Rica suggests that the Everton youngster may soon be playing a more prominent role for his country.
Here's a look at what Barkley must do to make an England jersey his own.
All statistics via WhoScored.com
Become a Key Player for Roberto Martinez
A lot of the hype surrounding Barkley stems from his often stunning highlight reels.
He is certainly an explosive player and can be a devastating runner. In fact, only Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Eden Hazard dribbled past more defenders in the Premier League last season—a guaranteed method of making a highlights package.
However, for reasons we shall come too, Barkley isn't yet a key player for Everton. He has already made key contributions, no doubt, but he's not someone Roberto Martinez will automatically select every week.
As with any youngster, he's often very hot or frustratingly cold, causing his manager to use him more sparingly than some may assume.
Barkley played more than 45 minutes in just six of Everton's final 15 games, with Steven Naismith and Leon Osman preferred for their more consistent production.
Next season, if Barkley wants an England spot, he must play a bigger role at club level to ensure that it's his team-mates who are rotated instead of him.
Keep Better Hold of the Ball
Strong showings during England's World Cup warm-ups left many urging Hodgson to start Barkley in Brazil.
Following the 2-2 draw with Ecuador, the England manager was then chastised in the media when, strangely, he chose to highlight Barkley's habit of losing the ball.
Tweets were instantly sprayed all over Twitter showing Barkley's 91 percent pass accuracy from the match. However, this isn't the area where Hodgson was concerned, and—while airing it in public may not have been wise—the England manager had a valid point.
Barkley is an excellent passer, so much so that he may eventually be more comfortable in a box-to-box role in midfield.
This isn't where Barkley loses the ball and citing passing stats are completely irrelevant in this instance. Instead, it's his dispossession and turnover numbers that emphasise Hogdson's stance.
Against Ecuador, Barkley either turned over the ball or was dispossessed nine times—more than double the amount of any England player. He was also dispossessed more than any Everton player in the Premier League last season.
While Barkley rarely surrenders possession via a pass, he does have a habit of dwelling on the ball a fraction too long, allowing defenders to nip in and make a tackle.
Going forward, it's something he will undoubtedly improve upon as he matures. Given England's struggles to maintain possession at major tournaments, it's important that he does.
Improved Decisions and Better End Product
We have already established how Barkley is an exceptional dribbler and that his numbers in that category compare with the best in the Premier League.
However, he still needs to make improvements to become an England regular.
A lot of this comes down to creativity. As a No. 10, a player is expected to serve up a large number of chances for his side.
Mesut Ozil (76), Christian Eriksen (68) and Oscar (48) are an example of the kind of quota top-level Premier League No. 10s achieve.
Barkley created just 26 chances last season and, quite tellingly, no assists. This highlights a need to make better decisions after he's beaten a man.
It's all well and good recording 80 successful dribbles, but if that doesn't equate to some substantial chances for your side, it's almost irrelevant.
Similarly, if he's not creating chances, he needs to contribute a greater haul of goals from the No. 10 position.
Replicate Production of Rival England No. 10s
Finally, for Barkley to earn a regular England berth, he clearly needs to surpass other contenders for the No. 10 jersey.
Judging by the World Cup, that means Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney, while Adam Lallana may be another option Hodgson uses behind his front man.
We have already highlighted how Barkley needs to up his quota of goals, assists and chances, and compared to these three players, he is currently behind.
|Games (Sub)||25 (9)||27 (2)||24 (9)||37 (1)|
There's little doubt Barkley has the potential to be one of England's leading players over the next decade.
Rooney, Lallana and even Sterling have all been exposed to more Premier League football than Barkley, and any youngster is expected to fluctuate in consistency.
Comparing his production to theirs at this stage is a little unfair; however, if Barkley wants to become an England regular next season, theirs is the kind of production he must look to replicate.
All statistics via WhoScored.com