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Ross Barkley’s rise makes him a World Cup banker

ON THE MOVE: Barkley in action for the Three Lions (PA)

ROSS BARKLEY’S ascent has been justly noted as a triumph for youth football at Everton and this is another home grown talent with roots in Nigeria.

The 20-year-old is making a compelling case for his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for next summer’s World Cup but could just as easily have turned out for the Super Eagles due to his Nigerian grandfather.

Barkley’s subdued display against Southampton on December 29 demonstrated the pitfalls of heralding so young a talent but during his first full season at Goodison Park, he has more often than not lit up proceedings as Roberto Martinez’s side strive for a top four finish. Nor has he looked out of place in the national set-up.

The precocious appeal of Barkley lies in his ability to find space and drag opponents out of position while demonstrating the muscularity to thrive in the Premier League.

Performances such as his man-of-the-match display as Everton drew with league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates and his stunning free-kick as the Toffees dispatched Swansea last month have drawn comparisons with the young Wayne Rooney.

Injury was to prevent Barkley making an impact at such a young age, though. The 16-year-old Barkley appeared on David Moyes’ Everton radar but an accidental collision with England Under-19 team-mate Andre Wisdom during a European Championship qualifier saw him shatter his leg in three places.

He cited the support of his mum, Diane, whose surname he chooses to bear given the strained relationship with his father, Peter Effanga, and his former manager Moyes, in aiding his rehabilitation.

Following a mixed reintroduction to first-team life at Goodison, Moyes sent Barkley on loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds last season before a late blossoming during the tail end of the campaign back at his boyhood club.

Barkley has taken his first-team chance under Martinez this season and though he is still prone to a wayward pass and to holding onto the ball too long, these foibles should be eradicated with increasing experience.

“I've never met an elite footballer with such a strong winning mentality who is so down to earth. He is so realistic about what he has to do," said Martinez after Everton’s defeat of Swansea.

“What he has done on the pitch has caught a lot of attention but Ross is still a very young man and is still developing.”

Nonetheless caution seems unlikely to prevent his inclusion in Brazil.

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