David Moyes insists Ross Barkley and Everton will reap the benefits of his micro-management of the precociously talented midfielder.
Moyes believes the Blues have an ‘outstanding player’ on their hands, but says he will only fulfil his undoubtedly rich potential if he is eased into the rigours of first-team football.
The 17-year-old – save an hour-long appearance in the Carling Cup against West Brom – hasn’t started since the trip to Blackburn, a game in which an individual error saw the youngster concede a penalty.
Moyes believes such mistakes are inevitable with young players and that, along with Barkley’s history of injuries, means he must be handled carefully – even more so than Wayne Rooney who Moyes nurtured in the early part of his Blues tenure.
“Sometimes Wayne would play, sometimes he wouldn’t because it was right for his development and the team,” he added. “That was the way to get young players into the team, it was the way to give them a chance without having all the major responsibility and we’ll do the same with Ross.
“But the difference is Wayne had played every game from a boy up - he’d never really had an injury at all until his metatarsal.
“Ross has had a double hernia and he’s also had a triple broken leg in that period, so he’s missed his development. He’s missed games and missed football. What we’re finding is Ross will probably make his mistakes in our first team, which could be costly to the team and the club. I’ve got to weigh up when and where I think I can allow that to happen.
“Meanwhile I’ll play him in as many reserve games as I can, keep getting him as many games of football as I can because he’s missed two years. I need him on the pitch often.”
Moyes’ approach is, of course, designed to get the best out of the England Under-21 midfielder, and the Everton manager has no doubts Barkley will turn into a player coveted by clubs everywhere.
“Every club will want Ross Barkley because Ross Barkley is going to be an outstanding player,” said Moyes.
“At the moment the only thing you've got to remember is that Ross hasn't played for us in two years. If someone comes for Ross I've always said it, it’s expensive to buy off Everton in the main. “If you’re going to come and try to take our better players we don’t sell cheap, that’s for sure.
“I’m sure the bigger clubs will be looking at him, but we’ve no intention of selling him.
“I think we’ve got the team to carry Ross,” added the Everton manager.
“The club is in a much better position (than with Rooney). You can at least say Everton are finishing in the top 10, whereas I think prior to that it hadn’t been a regular thing for Everton to be in the top 10 really.
“I think now there’s a level of expectancy where most people would expect us to finish near Europe, and we’ve been in Europe quite a lot. Can we carry someone like Ross now? Of course we can, maybe when we had Wayne I don’t think we could hang onto someone of that talent at that period.”