Ross Barkley still has work to do in order to establish himself as an England regular, says manager Roy Hodgson.
The Everton midfielder produced a man-of-the-match display in Friday’s win over Estonia before netting in this week’s victory against Lithuania.
But Hodgson, whose side qualified for Euro 2016 with 10 wins from as many Group E matches, revealed the 21-year-old was far from guaranteed a starting berth for next month’s high-profile friendlies against Spain and France.
When asked if it would be beneficial to test Barkley against two quality opponents, Hodgson said: “No, I don’t think so. He will play if I feel he is deserving of a place in what I consider to be our best team because I will be picking teams to play against Spain and France that I consider to be the best 11 of the moment.
“There’s a lot of football between now and then and we follow all our players very closely. There will be lots of reports and lots of sightings. Ross will have to continue doing well for Everton and continue to show that this is a player that deserves to be one of the first names on the England team-sheet, like he has shown he is one of the first names on Everton team-sheet. So it’s entirely up to him.
“He has certainly not done his cause any harm. All you can do when you are given a chance to play for England is to go out against whoever that opponent may be and do it very well. And if you do that, you get yourself in the forefront of the manager’s mind.”
Hodgson has been impressed, however, with Barkley’s continuing improvement and feels the former Sheffield Wednesday loanee is honing his decision-making skills at Goodison Park.
He added: “I think it is all down to the fact that he plays every game and he is starting to feel his place on the team-sheet is more guaranteed than maybe it has been in previous years.
“He realises how much faith his team-mates, his manager and everyone at the club has in him and, of course, he has worked hard at his game.
“He has taken on board all of the advice he is given from his manager and coaching staff and, when he comes to England, the work we try to do with him.
“Basically, he is aligning that coaching advice to his enormous talent and we are seeing the benefit of it. He is not always going to score spectacular goals and dribble past people as if they are not there, and against better opposition he will find that harder as well.
“But I think he is balancing his decision-making in a way that we think is very, very good and I am sure Roberto Martinez agrees with me.”