England manager Roy Hodgson has advised Everton’s Ross Barkley to study footage of Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti to improve his game.
After two seasons spent in and out of the starting XI, Barkley finally seems to have nailed down a place in the Everton team, starting every Premier League game for the club this season.
The 15-cap midfielder has found the net three times for the Toffees already and also scored his maiden England goal in the 6-0 win over San Marino last month.
With Hodgson set to experiment in at least one of the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania this month, Barkley has a real chance of forcing his way into the England team for the tournament in France if he maintains his recent form.
“He has been pushing for a while now,” the England manager said.
“His chances of getting in the first team do increase when he is playing well for Everton and they are winning.
“That hasn’t always been the case during the times I have picked him. But I know (Everton manager) Roberto Martinez is pleased with him, we are pleased with him.
“There is competition but we think he is good enough to play for England and he will get his chances.”
Central midfielders have chipped in with just three of the 28 goals scored by England since the World Cup. In fact, 12 of the 85 goals scored under Hodgson have come from players in that position – and eight of those were by either Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard, who have now retired.
Hodgson has made it clear he wants more goals from Barkley and his midfield colleagues.
“We are always looking for midfielders who can score goals,” Hodgson said.
“We haven’t been blessed with that over the last few years.”
Studying the likes of Baggio, who played under Hodgson at Inter, and his compatriot Totti, who has scored 243 goals in 587 appearances for Roma, will help Barkley immensely, according to Hodgson.
“If you want to be the guy who plays behind the forward you have to score goals,” Hodgson said.
“If I was a player in that position, maybe the classic players I would be looking at would be Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti. I would be looking at them. That would be my template.
“They scored an awful lot of goals. We think that is something Ross can help us with too.”
The uncapped Dele Alli is another midfielder in Hodgson’s squad for the forthcoming double-header.
“I am looking forward to working with him but I will make it clear to him that he may not have been selected if Henderson, Wilshere, Delph, (Tom) Cleverley and (Ryan) Mason were available, but it won’t be a problem because he is a very nice young man,” Hodgson said of the 19-year-old, who was playing League One football for MK Dons last season.