New Goodison manager Roberto Martinez compares the teenager to Michael Ballack
Ross Barkley has been hailed as England’s answer to Michael Ballack following the Everton FC teenager’s surprise call-up to the senior international side.
Barkley was today named in the England squad for the first time for the World Cup qualifying double header against Moldova and Ukraine next month.
National team coach Roy Hodgson watched the 19-year-old midfielder in Everton’s goalless home draw against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
New Goodison manager Roberto Martinez handed Barkley a starting role in his team’s opening two games having been impressed by the youngster’s pre-season form, which came after proving one of his country’s few star performers in the recent U20 World Cup in Turkey.
And Martinez believes England have a genuine star in the making.
“I look at Ross and you tell me what weakness he has? He hasn’t got one,” said the Everton manager.
“He takes in information, which for a young lad is incredible. He can use both feet, he can switch the play, he has a range of passing and can receive the ball in any area, he has a great shot and has incredible energy.
“He reminds me of Michael Ballack. When Ballack was younger, nobody knew what his best position was, could he be a sitting midfielder, an attacking midfielder or play up front? Ross is that impressive.”
Barkley has represented England at U16, U17, U19, U20 and U21 level, and helped his country win the UEFA U17 European Championships in 2010.
His call-up represents a meteoric rise for the teenager, who has started only six Premier League games and joins Goodison team-mates Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines in the senior squad.
Asked if Hodgson had mentioned Barkley on his weekend visit to Goodison, Martinez said: “We have spoken a few times, but England know him well. They have always had huge, high hopes for him when he was at the under-19s.
“When England got to the final (of the UEFA U17 competition) and won the tournament, Ross was the main player. But then he broke his leg.”
Martinez added: “Ross is as good with his left foot as he is with his right. When he broke his leg, it took him three months to get back to his normal self and he started using his left foot. Now you won’t see a difference between which foot he strikes the ball with.
“He’s started our last three games. Against Betis he gave the ball away twice in a dangerous area. Against Norwich once. And against West Brom, he didn’t.
“It’s incredible how he takes things in and can develop, but he’s not the finished article.”
Barkley could be one of several players taken out of the firing line by Martinez this evening as he prepares to rotate his squad for the Capital One Cup second round tie at home to League One side Stevenage.
Summer signings Joel Robles and Arouna Kone are both expected to start along with John Stones, while John Heitinga, Victor Anichebe, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo are all hopeful of a run-out.
On-loan Barcelona teenager Gerard Deulofeu will feature at some point, although the game may have come too soon for the recovering Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert.
“Darron Gibson is progressing really well and he won't be too far away,” said Martinez. “I think Wednesday we're going to assess him but it's probably a little bit too early for him.
“We need to be careful that we don't push him too early.
“To have Tony fully fit and ready is a huge bonus. It will be great if he can be involved on Wednesday.”
Antolin Alcaraz (hamstring) is still out, but Magaye Gueye could figure having made his comeback for the U21 side earlier this week.