Tim Howard says Ross Barkley’s performance against Arsenal was evidence that the teenager has the promise to make it at the top level.
The 19-year-old received positive reviews following his display at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday in what was just his second league start of the season.
Barkley’s dynamic yet composed performance in midfield earned a standing ovation from the army of travelling Blues supporters after he was substituted with a quarter of an hour remaining.
And Howard, who made his 300th Premier League appearance against the Gunners, believes it is the role of the senior Everton players to support the academy graduate and ensure he fulfills his undoubted potential.
“Ross is a strong young boy and he is going to be a fantastic player,” Howard told evertontv.
“With a player of his skill and also his strength you have got to throw him in at the deep end and it doesn’t get much deeper than Tottenham and Arsenal away.
“There is a trust level that he is building and the more big games he plays in that will keep growing.
“We try and stay on him and we don’t want him to get complacent. That’s important with young players on the rise who have a big name and a lot of expectation.
“It’s important to keep them grounded and he is a good boy so his feet are firmly on the floor.”
Howard is defiant that Everton are still ‘in the hunt’ to qualify for European football after adding another point to their total at the Emirates Stadium.
The American glovesman, however, believes that they cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to take their top-five challenge to the final match of the season.
“It leaves us in the hunt,” explained Howard. “We have got a couple of big away games that are going to be tricky to navigate and then, of course, we need to win our home matches.
“If we can pick up all three points in those games, we can hope to bring it down to the last 90 minutes against Chelsea. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.”
The Stadium of Light is Everton’s next destination with resurgent Sunderland lying in wait this coming Saturday afternoon.
The Black Cats head into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby victory last weekend, but Howard is confident three points can be achieved given the Toffees' dogged defensive showings in recent weeks.
“I think it’s three clean sheets in four games, so hats off to the defenders,” added the 34-year-old.
“As a goalkeeper, it’s not as though I’ve had to come up with a bunch of worldies to keep us in it. They [defenders] have been keeping them out at the back, making key blocks at key moments. The cohesion is fantastic.”
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