David Moyes is delighted Ross Barkley is giving Everton fans some cheer, but the manager is mindful of the need to be careful with the young midfielder.
The major positive for Everton in their season-opening home defeat to QPR, which followed a frustrating summer of limited activity in the transfer market, was Barkley's eye-catching senior debut. Much is anticipated of the 17-year-old and his dynamic display in the game at Goodison Park on Saturday demonstrated why.
But Moyes has stressed he will be taking a cautious approach with Barkley, who has had injury problems in recent years. "I think everybody wants to get excited about players," said Moyes, who was manager at the time Wayne Rooney broke into the team. "Evertonians have not got an awful lot to be excited about at the moment, so Ross gives everybody something to look at and cling on to.
"But I will have to pick and choose him at the right times and I'm sure people will understand. It is not just because of his age, it is also because of his lack of football as he is still really coming back from a triple broken leg, which we have to be mindful of.
"He is a boy who is keen as mustard. He was out on the training ground carrying the bag of balls this morning, and it is great. He is from the city of Liverpool who people know, a bit like Wayne. Probably because he has missed a couple of years of playing, he is a little bit raw and naive with it, but it's great to see someone with the life and enthusiasm he has. He comes alive when he is on the field."
The club confirmed that captain Phil Neville, 34, has signed a contract extension until 2013. Moyes hopes he will consider a coaching role at Goodison when he decides to retire.