Everton bank on Ross Barkley to hit the Wayne Rooney standard in push for top-four

The Toffees teenager has been thrust into action

There was a moment in the second half at the Emirates on Tuesday night when Everton's 19-year-old Ross Barkley made space for himself on the edge of the Arsenal area and struck a shot across Wojciech Szczesny's goal that was close enough to concern the home crowd.

It was not quite the introduction that Wayne Rooney made for himself against Arsenal at Highbury in 2003, that unforgettable dipping shot over David Seaman, but it was a reminder that Barkley is more than just the average teenager being given a place in the side for lack of other options.

It takes a confident manager to play a teenager who has been out on loan for most of the season when his side still have a slim chance of a Champions League place, but David Moyes evidently sees something beyond the ordinary in Barkley. After an FA Cup semi-final on Sunday in which only three of the 22 starting players were English, Barkley's performance against Arsenal was encouraging.

There is no doubt that the emergence of an academy-produced English teenager in a top-six side at this stage of the season is the exception rather than the norm. Roy Hodgson, who has again voiced his concerns about the diminishing number of English players, can thank the prolific Everton academy for Barkley's progress.

Moyes had other options but he chose to play Barkley behind Victor Anichebe, with the creative responsibility that position brings. "We're having to find the times and moments to play Ross, given where we are in the league and what games we have, and he's got a bit to do yet," Moyes said. "He's not quite ready to be a regular, playing all the time, but we gave him a role that might suit him. He's got a goal in him, as you saw from the shot."

Affording young players the opportunity has become the greatest barrier to their development, as has been the case most critically at Chelsea in recent years. Having returned from his second Championship loan spell of the season, at Leeds United, in February, Barkley has started against Tottenham and now Arsenal in the league. He made two appearances for Everton at the end of December, having previously been on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.

He suffered a bad injury in 2010, then aged 17, breaking his leg in three places during an England Under-19 match. He is making a case to be in Stuart Pearce's Under-21s squad for the European Championships in Israel this summer. He is 20 in December and next season could be his breakthrough campaign.

The Rooney standard is there for every young player at Goodison Park, but he is hardly the only one to emerge in recent years. Leon Osman, Anichebe, Jack Rodwell and Tony Hibbert are all academy boys, and the club had a stake in the development of Leighton Baines, who said on Tuesday night that Barkley had the potential to become an Everton regular. "He has an abundance of talent but the manager is trying to pick the moments when to play him," explained the full-back. "Nothing fazes him. He is such a good player."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back