Six years ago, a 19-year-old Ross Barkley, alongside an 18-year-old Raheem Sterling, stood basically where 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, alongside a 19-year-old Jadon Sancho stand right now. Barkley was barely 15 games into his Premier League career at that point, and was just embarking on his first full senior season at Everton, but he was already tipped for greatness with England. And while Sterling, who was the Sancho of that scenario, went on to become England’s best player basically, Barkley is still looking to live up to that initial promise — and it’s not like he lacked for chances on Merseyside.
Which way will Hudson-Odoi’s career go from here? Barkley himself thinks it will be up, up, and straight up some more.
“I haven’t seen the goal back and I’m not sure if it was going in. If it was going in I will be disappointed because I know how gutted he will be, he thrives off scoring and assisting. But he is really happy with the performance and I’m happy he got a start because the sky is the limit for him.
“He is a great lad and really mature for his age and he is going to keep developing, we have a real player there.”
Barkley’s referring to his first goal against Montenegro, where he redirected a Hudson-Odoi shot from the top of the box into the back of the net. It was one of those typical curling right-footed shots after Callum cut inside from the left, though replays suggested that it might have been going just wide, making Barkley’s intervention as timely as it was crucial.
The goal gave England the lead for the first time in the match, and they’d go on to pummel the hosts, 5-1.
Barkley himself had a performance worthy of all those expectations six years ago, grabbing two goals as well as a set piece assist with a well-taken free kick.
“It was positive from a personal point of view. To come away from home, over the years you’ve seen the results that Montenegro have had and they are a solid team. They made it difficult in the first 10-15 minutes but we responded really well and put in a positive performance.”
-Ross Barkley; source: beIN Sports via FourFourTwo
Things are certainly looking up for the Three Lions as they look to build on their fourth place success at last summer’s World Cup. With a young and talented squad and a manager willing to trust them, they sky is indeed the limit.