Ross Barkley could be forgiven if he is still shaking off some the criticism levelled at him by fans and pundits following a less than impressive display during the Merseyside derby.
His excellent performance in the 4-2 win over Leicester City on Sunday must have gone a long way to setting him back on course towards fulfilling his undoubted potential.
A sublime cross to set up Romelu Lukaku for the Toffees’ equaliser served as a reminder of what he is capable of at his best – even though he might not show it as consistently as once before.
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Barkley chalked up his eighth assist of the Premier League season at Goodison Park, putting him one behind Alexis Sanchez in fourth and three adrift of the leading trio in Kevin De Bruyne, Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The midfielder is certainly holding his own among the best in the country despite what some might make of his omission from the England squad last month.
Barkley is out of contract at the end of next season and potentially up for sale in the summer window if Ronald Koeman chooses to cash in on him.
It could well be best for both parties if the England international moves on, but regardless of what lies ahead, there are those who believe his natural ability commands respect.
Speaking on Sky Sports alongside Jamie Redknapp, former Everton Phil Neville has made it abundantly clear what he thinks of people who are quick to criticise Barkley.
“I hate the people that don't rate Ross Barkley, mate,” he said.
“It absolutely kills me every time I see somebody write bad about him, speak bad about him.
“I think you’ve got to look at the ability of the boy and as an English football nation, we should be supporting somebody with that much talent, that he’s got.”
Check out the passion Neville shows in the video below.
Barkley has reached an age that is a difficult period for any footballer who carries a lot of promise – especially an Englishman.
The 23-year-old is old enough to have reached a certain level of consistency and maturity – but he has plenty more people other than Neville to convince he is worth the hype.News Now - Sport News