EVERTON have welcomed back Ross Barkley to their first team fold – after his successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday came to an end.
Now David Moyes is hoping the midfielder can have the same impact that Leon Osman did after returning from spells with Carlisle and Derby.
The 18-year-old moved to Hillsborough on an initial one-month deal that was later extended by another four weeks.
But after 12 starts, one substitute appearance and four goals to his name, Barkley returns to an Everton squad stretched by injuries to captain Phil Neville, Kevin Mirallas, Victor Anichebe, Tony Hibert and a one-match ban for Marouane Fellaini.
“We were happy for Ross to go out there and play the games on loan. I think it’s been good for him,” said Moyes.
“He’s been playing in big games. We’ve had him watched in all the games and I’ve watched him personally play in two games live against Leeds United and Blackburn.
“For the first three or four games it took him a little bit of time to settle, but he has then made a bigger impression.
“Ross has done great. He is a young boy, 18, and those games in the Championship will bode well for us and for him. It’s not unlike when we put Leon Osman out on loan. I wouldn’t say it’s an exact similarity, but we put Ross out to try and get him ready for Premier League action.”
Barkley’s stay with Wednesday came to an end after Saturday’s defeat to Nottingham Forest.
He will bolster David Moyes’ midfield options, along with Darron Gibson who made his first appearance since early September for the under-21s on Sunday.
“He’s come through the game unscathed so that’s a plus point and it’s good for him that he’s come through it and it’s a step in the right direction for his recovery,” said coach Alan Stubbs.
“It’s important give or take Phil’s news. It was important to get Darron back and give the manager another selection dilemma.
“It makes it more important now that Phil has had the operation but it’s just good to get Darron back playing again.”