Jagielka gives backing to Barkley

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Ross Barkley is finally getting back to last season’s swashbuckling form and Phil Jagielka believes his Everton team-mate can become an England star if he bides his time.

The 21-year-old Barkley was one of few bright spots in a miserable summer for the Three Lions, leading to comparisons with Paul Gascogine and a young Wayne Rooney.

Things have gone slightly awry for the playmaker since the World Cup, however, given his struggles to scale the same heights with Everton.

International team-mate and club captain Jagielka knows it has not been the easiest season for the midfielder, but has backed him to kick on and repay England manager Roy Hodgson’s faith.

“I think it is difficult (for him) with the position he would try and get in the team in,” the Three Lions defender said.

“We have got a fantastic amount of midfielders that come away with England and quite a lot who want to play in the similar position.

“I think Ross will have to bide his time and when he does get the opportunities for England, keep doing the way he has, keep playing well, keep being positive.

“Hopefully when he gets that chance to play two or three games on the spin, that is his chance to keep the shirt and make it much harder for someone to take it off him.”

Barkley’s potential is clear to see, with Everton manager Roberto Martinez saying last year that “he will be the best player England has ever had”.

That is quite some statement, but the Spaniard has also cautioned he could struggle to fulfil his potential if not given a “proper break” this summer.

Barkley is eligible for Gareth Southgate’s Under-21 side at the European Championships in the Czech Republic, but Martinez hopes he will not be selected – a potential club versus country row Jagielka can appreciate from both sides.

“Ross didn’t get a massive break last year,” he said. “He came to Brazil, didn’t get a tremendous amount of game time and sometimes it is difficult mentally to switch off.

“That is our manager’s opinion and I am sure that Gareth would like Ross in his squad if he could, so it is difficult.

“It is a conversation for those people to have, to decided what is best for the Under-21 set-up and Ross’ career. It is difficult for me to have a proper comment.”

Right now, Barkley and Jagielka are only focused on helping England continue their winning start to Euro 2016 qualification in Friday’s encounter against Lithuania.

A mouth-watering friendly against Italy follows next week in Turin, where Joe Hart can become the youngest goalkeeper to reach half a century of England caps.

It would be a feat arguably even more impressive than his performance at the Nou Camp, where his one-man show had Everton’s players chuckling in sheer disbelief.

Manchester City may have crashed out of the Champions League last week, but Hart’s display in Barcelona was phenomenal, keeping his side’s defeat in the last-16 second to a respectable 1-0.

“We were away and we watched the Barcelona game,” Jagielka said. “We were pretty much laughing at the performance from Joe. It was just one of those nights.

“It is normally the people scoring the goals and things like that (who get the praise), but when Joe is needed he normally comes up trumps with some fantastic saves or some fantastic decisions in games. He is a pleasure to play in front of and he is a great kid, a great guy.”

Jagielka believes it is “onwards and upwards” in terms of Hart’s England career, but knows his own time as an international player may soon come to an end given he turns 33 this year.

“I am fully aware that I am not getting any younger, but by the same extent I am really enjoying my football at the moment,” the defender said.

“I really enjoy obviously meeting up with England and I am desperate to try and battle for, keep or whatever situation I am with, my place at the moment for as long as I possibly can.

“I’ve got no plans to do anything else. Until they tell me they don’t want me, unfortunately I am going to keep turning up.”

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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