Everton midfielder Ross Barkley should no longer be considered a young prospect but regarded as a player who can marshal and inspire his team, manager Roberto Martinez said.
The 22-year-old converted two late penalties in his 100th Premier League game for the Toffees as Everton eased to a 3-0 win over relegation-threatened Newcastle United on Wednesday.
Barkley made his club debut in 2011 and has not looked back since, going on to score 16 goals for the Merseyside club and earning 19 England caps since first representing his country in 2013.
“(100 Premier League appearances) is a remarkable landmark for someone of his age. I think last year and the season before that, Ross was a young man with enormous potential,” Martinez told the club’s website (www.evertonfc.com).
“Today, he showed that he is not a young man anymore, he is still young in terms of age but in footballing terms he is someone ready to lead a team. He has been very consistent all season.
“His decision-making has gone to a different level and I don’t think he’s just a player with potential anymore, he is an important player for us.”
Martinez also said top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who has bagged 19 goals this campaign, is a doubt the trip to Stoke City on Saturday after the Belgian international picked up a back injury in Wednesday’s win.
Everton are likely to be without another key player in defender John Stones, who faces a 10-day spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, as they look to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Potters earlier this season.
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