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

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Ross Barkley already knows he will come back from the World Cup a better player.
The Everton man is currently in Brazil with the England squad, hoping to force his way into the starting XI for Saturday’s opener against Italy.
The Italians boast global names like Gianluigi Buffon, Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo and Barkley knows it is this kind of challenge which will see him eventually emerge an even better footballer.
He told evertontv: “That is what I dream about, playing against the best players in the world. It’s every kid’s dream to be doing things like that and hopefully I will get the chance.
“It’s very important when you go into a tournament, to set the tone in the first game. You have got to start with a good result, go into the game prepared and looking to win the game.
“With all the big-name players it’s going to be a big test playing against Uruguay but if we get a good result against Italy we can take confidence into the second game. We need to be positive throughout the group stage.”
Barkley’s World Cup call-up came after a breakthrough season which saw him deliver a series of eye-catching Premier League displays for the Blues.
A year ago he was representing England’s Under-20s in Turkey, an experience he already sees as good preparation for Brazil.
“I will learn a lot,” he insisted. “I went to the World Cup with the Under-20s last summer and I learned a lot there - about the (tournament) environment, playing against the big countries.
“I’ve never been to South America, (I will learn about) the temperatures, preparing for games, being away from home; it will be a good learning curve for me and a great experience.
“After every tournament I feel I have learned something and I come back wanting to progress.”

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