Frank Lampard has spoken in depth about Ross Barkley ahead of today’s meeting with his former club Everton, explaining why the midfielder has a big role to play at Chelsea and what he must continue to do for that to remain the case.
Barkley has had a stop-start Stamford Bridge career so far. Injuries have been a consistent issue since he joined, and the nature of a big club like Chelsea means competition in midfield is always fierce.
Still, he has made 19 appearances under Frank Lampard this season, and that having been unavailable for the whole of November and December. Our former no.8 has assessed the state of play for our current no.8, and explained what Barkley has done well in recent times to earn a spot in the starting XI.
‘All our midfield players have been out at times, but Ross had probably longer out, with a niggly injury which hung around for six weeks,’ said Lampard.
‘In the early part of the season when Ross wasn’t getting in, he can look at himself and say he could have been doing better probably. Ross has taken that on in the most positive way possible. He has worked hard, and he’s got his nose in the team. He does need confidence as a player, I believe that, so to try and play him and give him minutes is always going to help with the confidence.
‘If he plays like he did against Liverpool and Tottenham, then he’s a big player for this club. I have been pleased to see his recent performances. Now can he keep churning them out? I definitely know he has the intention to, and I definitely see that in training and the way he holds himself. I’m happy with Ross.
‘What he will be searching for is minutes to play regularly, to get consistency to do what he did the other night against Liverpool,’ added Lampard.
‘It’s clearly in his powers. His shooting, right and left foot, is as good technically as I see on the training pitch. Also his ability to go past someone in advanced areas in midfield, his skill. It’s well within his range.
‘He shouldn’t get caught up in where he’s at, what he may be, what may have been, only how he trains every day. When you see that you see he’s a really good player for us and can be that goalscoring midfielder, and not only that: he can play, he can run, he can tackle, he can do a lot of things.’
Lampard acknowledges the early hype around Barkley might not have helped his cause when he started out at Everton. He notes: ‘It’s easy to make conclusions on players without knowing there’s a long path to go, but now Barkley deserves credit for being a regular in the England team and playing for a big club like Chelsea.'
Today if selected he will face his former employers, and Lampard expects the 26-year-old to handle the pressure well.
‘Ross has been away from Everton for a couple of years now, and in the life footballers live they understand when they move on and go back to their old club, they will get abuse. I don’t want to feel like I’m coming down on any words from fans. There’s abuse, and then there’s typical behaviour of a fan who might give some light-hearted reaction to a player who played for them.
‘The more you can try and take as little of it as possible, and show what you can do on the pitch, it’s always the best answer. That’s what Ross needs to do.
‘Personality wise he’s a really good-natured man, a good lad, who really wants to do well at his job. He’s very close to his family, who obviously have roots in who we are playing against.
‘I don’t think he’ll revel in it, he’s not that type, but he’s a determined lad who will want to do well against his old team, who I’m sure he respects as a club.’