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

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy