Youngster frightens defenders and will get special treatment now
Leighton Baines is convinced Ross Barkley will continue to frighten the life out of defenders – despite coming in for ‘special attention’.
The Everton midfielder has made a flying start to the new season and quickly established himself as one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League.
Baines says teams are now realising that they need to work on stopping the 19-year-old from Wavertree.
Barkley, alongside club-mates Baines and Phil Jagielka in the England squad at present, has scored twice so far this campaign and been one of the stand-out performers for Roberto Martinez’s side.
But Baines says Barkley’s temperament will be put to the test in the coming weeks now that opposition sides have got wise to his talent.
“He’s starting to build up a reputation now and teams are beginning to show him that bit more respect,” Baines said.
“In the first few games maybe when they saw him on the team sheet there was no preparation around him from the opposition but now there will be.
“That’s something he will have to learn to deal with and he will because he’s going to be a top, top player. No doubt about it.
“The great thing for him is that he’s now getting his education on the pitch which is the best place to learn. Now he has to combat the attention.”
Baines says he has experienced being the subject of specific tactics from the opposition but believes it is a rite of passage all players must go through.
And the England left-back has every confidence that Barkley will throw off the shackles and continue to wreak havoc in the Premier League.
“We all have to go through it,” he said.
“The opposition will do things just based around stopping you and it’s how you respond but he will. “He’s looking to learn all the time and the manager and us as senior players are trying to help him because he’s a massive asset for us.”
Baines, meanwhile, is expected to face Poland tomorrow night after Ashley Cole was ruled out of the match.
A rib injury to the Chelsea man meant Baines faced Montenegro in Friday’s crucial World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
The Everton defender labelled it as the biggest game of his career but knows tomorrow night’s game with Poland is even more significant.
“Friday was probably my biggest game for England and this will be bigger,” Baines said.
“The magnitude of the game is something we are all aware of.
“On Friday we had to make sure it was in our own hands and we have to go and finish the job now.'
“There will be a good crowd and a good occasion. All the players at this level are accustomed to it. It’s important we go and get the right result.
“We’ve approached both games like any other. We haven’t deviated from what we do. No special plans.
“We prepare for the game and focus on what we need to do.”