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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez has described Ross Barkley's England call-up as a 'terrific reward'.

The Everton midfielder was handed a first senior call-up by Roy Hodgson last week, ahead of the Three Lions' World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

And Martinez backed Barkley, 19, to take the next big step in his burgeoning career in his stride.

The Blues boss said: "I think it is a terrific reward. He is a player with special potential and he has been involved in every level for England. He is a player well-known by the FA so it is very pleasing when he gets the call from the senior side.

"He is a boy who is dedicated to football. He loves the game, and is a true professional. He is not a player who needs to be reminded to be realistic or to keep working hard. He is very well rounded and someone who wants to fulfil his potential and in that respect it speaks volumes of the people who work at the club developing the youngsters."

Martinez shrugged off any suggestion that the call-up had come too soon in the player's development.

He continued: "Ross is the first one to understand he is still in the middle of his development and getting that call from England will be great for him to train with the senior side, even though he knows full well that his role is with the Under-21s at the moment, and to carry on at club level performing in the role he has been for the last four games.

"It is a nice reward, and a nice sign that the England manager is keeping an eye on him but it doesn't mean too much in terms of changing the role of Ross."

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