Morgan Schneiderlin tips Ross Barkley to become one of England's best
Ross Barkley has been tipped to become "one of the greatest players in England" by his Everton colleague Morgan Schneiderlin.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate was among the onlookers at Goodison Park on Saturday as midfielder Barkley stated his case for inclusion in Thursday's England squad by starring in the Toffees' 3-0 success over West Brom.
The 23-year-old has not been on his country's squad list since last summer's Euro 2016 and has even had a public dose of tough love from his club boss Ronald Koeman earlier this season.
However, in Schneiderlin, who was recruited from Manchester United in January, Barkley already has a fan.
"Ross is a very, very good player," he said.
"He's a player who has every quality to be one day one of the greatest players in England. He has this special thing in him, a very nice technique and for me it's easy to play with players who understand football like I understand football - to make those passes, those movements, it's a joy.
"I'm very, very happy to be behind him. He has a special talent and I want to give him opportunities to express himself and not to be worried about something else other than just having the ball and enjoying his football."
Barkley has long been touted as one of the country's finest young talents but his trajectory since making his Everton bow six years ago has not quite met those expectations.
Southgate will have seen his ability and improved form at the weekend and were he to ask Schneiderlin, he would have an emphatic response to the question of whether Barkley should return to the England fold.
"I think of course he will be in the squad," the Frenchman said.
"I'm not the manager but he deserves to be there and show what he can do. He deserves to be in this England team because he's one of the best English players.
"He's someone who has worked very, very hard. Every day in training he tries to progress. Even the year before all the press and everyone was very critical of him but he's still young, he's still learning every time.
"I can see him doing very well if he keeps his head on his shoulders and being one of the main men in the England squad for sure.
"You should appreciate him because he's the kind of player who has a lot of technique, a lot of awareness, both feet, he's strong, he has everything.
"I think a team needs to give him this platform to express himself because he can pick a pass, he can score goals, he can run, he's strong, he has a bit of everything."
The list of Barkley sceptics even included Koeman earlier in the season and the Dutchman has been impressed by how the Liverpudlian has responded to his criticism.
"He's used to having critics because when he came through the academy, he was the Everton boy," Koeman explained.
"That means maybe the people are watching Ross more to see what he is doing. Everybody knows and everybody sees that at this time he is playing really well."