Graeme Jones believes Ross Barkley's performances in the first two games of the season have highlighted how he is growing as a footballer.
The England youngster has been pivotal to the Blues picking up four points from their opening two games, with Barkley on target against both Watford and Southampton, while also assisting Romelu Lukaku for one of his two goals at St Mary’s.
Assistant manager Jones has already extolled the virtues of the chemistry between Lukaku and Arouna Kone, but says they have been more than ably supported by Barkley playing in the number 10 position.
“Ross has had a big role here for the last two years,” he told evertontv. “The good thing about him is nothing fazes him. He is involved in all aspects now, things like set pieces for, set pieces against, attacking play and what he needs to do off the ball.
“He showed great maturity at the weekend. He knew when to take a touch, when to slow the game down, when to counter attack, when to speed it up.
“Over a period of time you give him as much information as you can, and he gets as much experience as he can, and we hope he can take that into games with him.”
The graphic above shows the completed and uncompleted passes from Barkley against Southampton. He completed 88.7% of 53 passes against Saints, including teeing up Lukaku for the second (the blue arrow).
Regarding his goals, Jones says Barkley's early-season willingness to both orchestrate and end moves is further reason for encouragement.
The youngster's two goals already equal his league tally for last term and Jones added: “Ross’ strength is his shooting. But he creates those opportunities himself.
“Take his goal at the weekend – a lot of players would have taken a first time shot but he checked back on his right foot and bent it into the opposite corner.
“We all know that is his strength, but that wasn’t the most pleasing aspect of the game. For me, that was his pass through to Romelu for the second goal.
“That is where you measure the improvement in Ross within the last two years. Two years ago, I knew Ross could score the type of goal he did, but his improvement has been his awareness in the final third.”
The heat map above shows Barkley’s willingness to find the ball around the area to try to orchestrate Everton’s attacking threat against Southampton.