Wednesday 24 January 2018

Martinez wants focused Barkley

Ross Barkley has been told to put the World Cup to the back of his mind and concentrate on his form for Everton
Ross Barkley has been told to put the World Cup to the back of his mind and concentrate on his form for Everton

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has told Ross Barkley to concentrate on his club form and let a potential World Cup trip look after itself.

Barkley is clearly in England manager Roy Hodgson's thoughts ahead of next summer's tournament in Brazil having appeared as a substitute in friendlies against Chile and Germany in recent days.

But Martinez wants the 19-year-old midfielder, who made his international debut against Moldova in September, to focus on maintaining the strong start he has made to the season with Everton.

Martinez said: "I don't think it is the time to consider that (World Cup) - the squad is going to be announced in June.

"In football a week is an eternity so for a few months it is going to be a waste of time thinking about what can happen in the future.

"In football you need to concentrate on the day-to-day work and that's where Ross is.

"He is enjoying his experience with England, and when he came on yesterday he was himself and that is always important.

"But all he needs to do now is concentrate on his club role and make sure he is ready to help the team and enjoy his season and develop, and grow.

"Then the reward is always around the corner, after your good work on a daily basis.

"Sometimes you get confused as a player how you are going to affect what happens in the national team, but it is very easy. It is what you do at club level."

Everton have a strong presence in the current England set-up with defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines both important to Hodgson's plans.

Concerns have been raised about England's defence after both the latest friendlies ended in defeat but Martinez thought centre-back Jagielka, who played against Germany, shone through.

"I thought it was a real positive," he added. "It is always a great challenge when you play a German team.

"I thought Phil was himself. I thought he performed like a leader and it was really pleasing to see him performing in that manner."

Martinez does not think Jagielka should be concerned about renewed calls for John Terry to be summoned from retirement.

The Spaniard said: "It is normal. You are going to get this sort of debate.

"You are looking at probably one of the best World Cup events ever.

"There are many possibilities for the national team manager to consider and I am sure that is going to happen over the next five to six months."

Baines, who played 90 minutes against Chile last Friday, is providing stern competition for Ashley Cole at left-back.

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs is another option and Martinez has suggested the key for Baines is also to concentrate on Everton business.

He said: "It is a great position for the England squad to have the quality of the players they have, particularly in that left-back spot.

"You have seen in the last two games three really good footballers but from our point of view Leighton is a special footballer in the best moment of his career.

"He had a really important role in the two (October) qualifiers but it is now about getting back to club level and making sure he has a very strong season."

Meanwhile, Antolin Alcaraz is ready to launch his Everton career - although he may have to wait until after this weekend's derby against Liverpool.

The Paraguay defender has not featured since following Martinez from Wigan to Everton on a free transfer in the summer.

The 31-year-old needed a hernia operation soon after making the move but is now in full training with the squad and awaiting his opportunity.

Martinez feels it might be unfair to give him that chance as arch-rivals Liverpool visit for what is sure to be an intense occasion on Saturday, but promises a debut will come soon.

Martinez said: "He is fully fit now and has been working really well in the last week. He is one week ahead of what I expected.

"I would say he is ready to play a part in a game - that would be no problem now, but is just building that stamina and that match fitness.

"It is probably picking the right moment. A full intense derby would probably be the wrong moment to give him the opportunity but he has been working really and has progressed really well.

"I consider him - along with Tony Hibbert - fully fit and ready to help the team."

Press Association

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