Ross Barkley impresses Ronald Koeman in new Everton role
Ross Barkley is winning over Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman has been publicly critical of the playmaker on several occasions since taking over at Goodison Park last summer.
In December Koeman admitted he was unsure whether Barkley would ever go on to achieve the great things expected of him since he broke into the team six years ago.
But Barkley's performances playing in a more advanced role in the last few games have impressed Koeman and he currently has nothing but positive words for the 23-year-old.
The Everton boss said: "We had several individual talks about his performances, about his football, about his position because in the last few games he played in a different position than he was before in the midfield, and I think that's the best for the team at the moment and for himself.
"He's working hard. I told him if I don't talk any more to you then you need to be afraid and I am still talking to him because I am really happy about his last performances."
Everton were forced to train indoors on Thursday as Storm Doris battered the north west - a far cry from the conditions they enjoyed on a mid-season training break in Dubai last week.
With the Toffees out of the FA Cup, Koeman opted for a change of scenery ahead of this weekend's return to Premier League action against Sunderland.
"We had a sandstorm but we had good temperatures over there and a good week," said Koeman. "We did good intensive sessions over there in the morning, the boys had some free time in the afternoon and we did some meetings.
"It was a training camp, it wasn't a holiday. I was really happy with how the players worked all week and I think it was a good choice.
"If you win on Saturday, then it's a good choice; if you don't win then the people will say, 'Why did you go to Dubai?'. But okay, it's my responsibility."
Koeman also appreciated the chance for a bit of team bonding as he continues to mould the squad to his liking.
He said: "Normally you like to play every weekend. For some players it was good because they are now back after some small injuries. And sometimes it's good to have a break.
"We've changed the group a lot if you compare to pre-season and the beginning of the season. I think we have seven or eight new faces in.
"I think that was also important to bring the group together. You spend more hours together than in a normal week and you have time to talk to the players individually and that was really good."
Romelu Lukaku missed the trip after travelling home to Belgium for treatment on a minor calf problem but will be fit to face Sunderland.
Midfielders James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas have also trained this week while Dominic Calvert-Lewin will rejoin the group on Tuesday.
One potential new addition Koeman was not willing to discuss, though, was Wayne Rooney.
The Dutchman has previously said he would be open to the idea of Rooney returning to Goodison, where he began his career.
With speculation about a move for Rooney to China intensifying, Koeman was again asked his thoughts on the Manchester United striker.
He said: "I think it's not the moment now to talk about what will happen or what we need for next season because we just finished the transfer window."