Ross Barkley sets sights on Champions League

After impressing on international duty, Ross Barkley is hoping he can continue that form with Chelsea to help us secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season…

Barkley scored twice for England as the Three Lions won 5-1 in Montenegro on Monday evening, having earned a starting spot in Gareth Southgate’s side with a fine performance as an early substitute in their 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic four days earlier.

The 25-year-old could be hitting form at just the right time, with a string of important matches coming up for Chelsea as we enter the business end of the season aiming for Champions League qualification, starting with today’s trip to Cardiff City in the Premier League.

‘I had a good week away with England, two positive results and I got a couple of goals, and now I’m looking forward to a strong end of the season with Chelsea,’ said Barkley.

‘We’re looking up the table. Our last result against Everton, we performed really well in the first half but we dropped off in the second. We’ve had a 10-day break since our last game, so we’re looking forward to playing Cardiff and then with the right approach hopefully we can get back to winning ways and force our way up the table.

‘That’s our target now. We’ve got to go on a winning streak, so we’ve got to take one game at a time. We’ll be working hard on it on the training pitch to approach each game with the right frame of mind.

‘It’s a tough game against Cardiff. When we played them at Stamford Bridge earlier this season they started really well. They’re a really solid team with their 4-4-1-1 and they’re solid at the back, even with Sol Bamba out injured. We’ll approach it in the right frame of mind and they will put up a challenge, but hopefully it will be a win for us.’

Our number eight also discussed the importance of rotating our squad as we continue to chase a top-four place in the Premier League and a trophy in the Europa League in the latter stages of a busy campaign, and the mindset needed for the players to be at their best in that situation.

‘You approach every game as if you’re going to be playing, and if you’re not playing you deal with it in the right way and if you are playing you do what you can in the game,’ he explained. ‘But we’ve got top players in the squad so there’s going to be rotation, because of the amount of games we play. We’re always trying to challenge for trophies and trying to go through to finals and compete at the top.’

The midfield is certainly an area of Maurizio Sarri’s squad where there is plenty of strength in depth, with Barkley one of five internationals at the Italian’s disposal in that position, but he also sees the importance of the different attributes each player can bring to the midfield, as well as the benefits of being able to help each other improve in training.

‘The characteristics from N’Golo Kante are totally different from my strengths, and the same with Jorginho as well, but all the midfielders, we all add different things to the midfield three.

‘You look at Jorginho in that regista role, he keeps everything ticking for us and he’s a man that gets the ball moving and helps us build up play. With N’Golo I don’t need to say too much about him, because everybody knows what he brings to the team and how good he is!’

‘I’ve learned a lot through playing with the both of them, and the rest of the squad as well.’

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