Bulgaria 0-6 England: 5 Talking Points | Euro 2020 Qualifiers
#3 Barkley again proving capable of more than the critics believe
Questions over his consistency at club level and preferred role at Chelsea have become a recurring theme in whether he should be selected for Southgate's squads, but when he performs like this for England, can you question it?
In Ross Barkley's case, no! Although those positional issues still linger, he stands out as one of their best midfield options and has proven he deserves to start - particularly against tough opposition, where England's ability to create chances are severely lessened without a player of his technical ability featuring.
When granted a license to roam forward while refusing to shirk those defensive responsibilities, he can really prove a threat. For both his well-taken strikes here, he did something that many attributed to Dele Alli's early success in recent seasons: timely runs into the box, great anticipation and awareness to get himself into dangerous positions with frequency.
Alli has been plagued with troublesome injuries and inconsistent form for a while now, but even in his absence Barkley sticks out like a sore thumb as part of a midfield trio that Southgate often puts too much defensive onus on - particularly in games like these against teams who sit back, soak up pressure and look to pounce on half-chances.
Scoring two with an assist too (88.5%), he won five duels, completed two dribbles and enjoyed a memorable outing just three days after emerging as one of the few England players with credit - a purposeful display off the substitute bench during their surprise 2-1 defeat by Czech Republic.Published 15 Oct 2019, 11:47 IST