Ross Barkley has been warned that he must improve his game in “all aspects” by Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
The attacking midfielder lost his place in the England squad under new manager Sam Allardyce after suffering a dip in form and was hauled off at half-time of the Toffees’ 3-0 Premier League win at Sunderland on Monday following a disappointing showing.
Koeman held one-to-one talks with Barkley following the encounter at the Stadium of Light to discuss how he can regain his top form, but the Dutchman warned there is no hiding place for the 22-year-old.
“I spoke to him and he understood. We showed the clips and there was no escape,” he said ahead of Saturday’s clash against Middlesbrough.
“You analyse the match and of course there was a reason to change Ross at half-time because he did not play well and lost many balls. Players of that quality can’t lose those kinds of balls.
“We analyse the game and hold individual talks and I had it with Ross. He needs to improve and, OK, we will see at the weekend [how he responds].
“It’s more how he used to play. He is strong enough to work harder and do better pressing. You look to his qualities and to be a key player between defenders and strikers, to create and be part of the team. He can improve and needs to improve.”
Barkley may be given a fresh opportunity against Boro and Koeman believes he must forget about his England axing.
He added: “That is the past, in my opinion. What counts is what happened now. You get game time for the national team because you play at a good level for your club.
“I spoke to Ross in pre-season and we agree the best position is in midfield. Of course he can play wide but I prefer three strikers. He can play the 10 position or one of the two midfield positions.
“But what is important is how he reacts well. He is a talented player and we know he can improve.
“In all aspects he needs to improve but he is still a young player, no question.”
Gareth Barry is set to become just the third player to make 600 Premier League appearances, and Koeman hailed the midfielder’s longevity, hinting the 35-year-old will be given a new contract for next season if his current form is maintained.
“He will be selected. It is amazing. The third player to 600, and 19 seasons in a row is fantastic and still he is an important player for us because he is a clever player,” he said.
“Of course you have to realise the training intensity to keep the player fit and I am happy he is part of the Everton team.
“If he is still the player that we need, we will start talking about next season.”