Roy Hodgson has praised Ross Barkley for finally demonstrating the fine form he has long felt the Chelsea midfielder capable of.
The 24-year-old is again convincing to the same extent he did in 2014, when he persuaded the then-England manager to take him to that summer’s World Cup.
While his career had stalled and his obvious talent was at risk of going to waste, he has excelled since Maurizio Sarri’s arrival at Chelsea to the extent that he will pose a significant threat to Hodgson on Sunday if selected to start against Crystal Palace.
Hodgson retained faith in Barkley to also take him to Euro 2016 when his form was far less consistent, and after watching him score three in three for Chelsea and earn an England recall, the Palace manager said: “He is showing everything we thought he could and should be.
“Barkley was one of many talents that came into the England team a few years ago and a player, if they could get a run of games, and keep themselves fit, that has everything you are looking for in a midfielder.
“I am very pleased for him. I hope he will repay these kind words by playing very poorly on Sunday. I doubt he will.
“It’s sod’s law; you think these players might owe you a small dedication and they repay you by scoring in a defeat.”
Barkley’s progress has been such that Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who impressed under Hodgson while on loan at Palace last season, has remained peripheral at Stamford Bridge, but the 71-year-old believes it is crucial he maintains his present form and fitness over the course of the season.
“Ross was unlucky with his injury, which set him back when he got to Chelsea, but he has done exceptionally well to battle through that,” he said. “He certainly looks a lot fitter than the last time he was working with (England).
“Let’s wait and see how he does throughout the season and see what success Chelsea have with him in the team before we go overboard.
“We do have a tendency to get those epithets quite early on before there is a real body of evidence. As a football coach, I prefer to wait for a larger body before making bold statements.”