His England career shouldn't be cut short
There were some proud faces among Goodison backroom staff past and present at the sight of Ross Barkley trotting on to the Wembley pitch last Friday.
Ever since his name began being whispered around the city while still a fledgling schoolboy, much has been expected of Barkley, long touted as an England international of the future.
Yet even the midfielder’s most ardent advocates would have been somewhat surprised at the teenager not only being handed a call-up to his country’s senior squad, but then being thrown on during the second half of a World Cup qualifier.
Okay, the game against Moldova was well won before Barkley replaced Jack Wilshere on the hour. But the point still stands.
Let’s not forget, Barkley has started just seven Premier League games in his career. He began only 15 games at Championship level during loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United last season. And he’s featured only five times for England under-21s.
So, was Wembley too much too soon?
Not quite. Barkley has built on his encouraging end to last season by beginning the new campaign in sparkling form, employed in an attacking midfield role by new Everton manager Roberto Martinez designed to bring the best out of him.
Martinez’s faith in youth and attacking would suggest Barkley will be a regular feature in the Goodison first team despite the increased competition for places in midfield with the arrivals of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.
And, even way back when making his debut against Queens Park Rangers more than two years, Barkley did not look out of place.
As the adage goes, if you are good enough you’re old enough.
The worry, though, comes with England and the manner in which they have been all-too-easily handing out new caps.
If it is now a lot easier to win an international call-up with the Three Lions than perhaps 20 years ago, then it’s just as easy to find yourself quickly cast aside.
Barkley’s development will have been accelerated by his time with the England squad and that half-hour on the pitch at Wembley.
But it could be pretty much worthless unless Roy Hodgson continues to call up the 19-year-old, with any unexplained omission potentially damaging to the player’s confidence.
Too many players have seen their international careers end just as soon as they have begun.
Everton alone have had Francis Jeffers, David Unsworth and Michael Ball all play just once each for England since 2000, while Leon Osman now seems unlikely to improve on the two appearances he made for his country last season.
Of course, Barkley may have already done enough in the match and in training to convince Hodgson he deserves regular selection.
And as the fortunes of expected one-cap wonder Ricky Lambert – another Scouser – have shown in recent weeks, impressive performances make it extremely difficult for you to be overlooked for future squads.
Barkley has been given a taste of the high life. Hopefully, it will prove an experience that only benefits rather than muddles his career progress.