(Reuters) - Ross Barkley’s experience and talent will earn him a spot in the Everton team despite the midfielder being “at loggerheads” with the club and refusing to commit his future to them, manager Sam Allardyce said.
Barkley refused a contract extension before the start of the season and was close to joining champions Chelsea on the final day of the transfer window, but a move to Stamford Bridge did not materialise.
The 24-year-old, who has made 150 appearances for Everton and scored 21 goals, has not played for the club this season after suffering a hamstring injury in training.
“I wouldn’t have any hesitation about playing Ross Barkley, purely because of his experience and his talent,” Allardyce said ahead of Saturday’s league clash with third-placed Chelsea.
“You cannot see or get too many players who are more talented than him in today’s age of football. How he uses that talent is the big question for Ross now.
“He had a knockback with the injury, he has been at loggerheads with the club over his future but that has been out of my hands.”
Barkley is in the final year of his contract at the club and likely to consider his future when the January transfer window opens after edging closer to full fitness in a friendly game in training this week.
With Everton playing against West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth and Manchester United over the festive period, Barkley could get an opportunity to make his first league appearance of the season under Allardyce.
“I will use him because he is contracted to the club. I don’t think he would ever shirk his responsibility.”
Everton are ninth in the table with 25 points and unbeaten in their last five league games.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar