Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley anticipates some hostility from Everton’s visiting supporters in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.
The 24-year-old moved to Chelsea in January after 13 years at Goodison Park and faces the Toffees for the first time in opposition colours.
“I don’t think it (the reception) will be the best,” Barkley said in the London Evening Standard.
“I’m not nervous, I’m excited to play against my former club and team-mates – I understand how some of them play, so that could be an advantage for me.
“On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the staff there who I used to get on really well with.”
Barkley did not play for Everton in the last seven months of his spell due to a hamstring problem and moved in a cut-price £15million deal, with his contract winding down.
He has previously insisted it was time to move on and make progress, and he has impressed Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri while scoring three goals in his last five Blues appearances.
“I was approaching 25 and I felt looking back I could have improved a lot more (at Everton),” Barkley added.
“At Chelsea I knew I’d improve a lot quicker around better players, world-class players.”
Barkley has played in the last three games, so may drop to the bench against the Toffees.
Sarri says he is pleased for Olivier Giroud as he knows strikers want to score goals, but he points out the player is important regardless of goals. #BATEvCFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 8, 2018
Alvaro Morata could return up front, despite Olivier Giroud ending a six-month barren streak in goal with the decisive strike in Thursday night’s 1-0 Europa League Group L win at BATE Borisov in Belarus.
Giroud quipped he contemplated seeking religious help, prior to ending a run of 794 minutes without a Chelsea goal.
Giroud told Chelsea TV: “It’s true I’ve been looking forward to it. I kept working hard in training, kept the faith. I always score goals.
“At the end of the day it has to come back. I didn’t know when, but I’m glad.
“I’m happy for the team and for myself I hope I will have the opportunity to score more.
“I was thinking shall I see a priest or something like that? No, I’m joking.”
Everything is not perfect, but we work on itOlivier Giroud
Sarri was far from satisfied with the performance at BATE, despite sealing qualification for the knockout stages with two matches to spare, and is likely to restore rested defenders David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso.
Midfielder N’Golo Kante was a late call-up for the trip following illness to Cesc Fabregas, but the Frenchman did not feature and is likely to start against Everton as Chelsea bid to extend their unbeaten run to 18 games.
Fabregas and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has a minor back problem, are the only doubts.
Giroud added: “Everything is not perfect, but we work on it.”