LONDON: England manager Roy Hodgson heralded Ross Barkley’s improving form after the Everton playmaker was named man of the match following a 2-0 win over Estonia in Euro 2016 qualifying.
Barkley created Theo Walcott’s 45th-minute opener in Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) Group E game at Wembley with a beautifully weighted pass and went close to adding a second with a couple of mazy runs and shots before Raheem Sterling got on the score-sheet late on.
Blooded by Hodgson in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, Barkley experienced a dip in form last season, but the 21-year-old has made a positive start to the new campaign and the England manger was enthused by his latest display.
“I’m pleased Ross got man of the match. We saw what he can do today (Friday),” Hodgson said.
“Like all his managers, I had to work hard on his decision-making as to when he struts his stuff, which is fantastic, and when he plays it more simply.
“But that’s a coach’s job with a very talented young player with lots of ability, (teaching him about) using that ability in the right moments.
“I’m quite proud of the fact Ross Barkley is still only 20 (sic), but has been in the national team for over two years, when he’s quite often not been in the Everton team. That shows the faith I have in him.”
Hodgson added: “Things don’t change overnight. It doesn’t sink in overnight. He works at it.
“I’m sure (Everton manager) Roberto Martinez is working with him, talking to him, and giving him the same instructions. He’s learning the lessons, not least by playing at the highest level with Everton and England.”
Hodgson revealed after the game that captain Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Gary Cahill, James Milner and Michael Carrick will all skip Monday’s game in Lithuania, when England will look to complete their qualifying campaign with a 10th straight victory.
Rooney missed Friday’s game with an ankle injury, but was present before kick-off to receive a commemorative golden boot from Bobby Charlton for scoring a record 50th England goal last month.