No headlines from Hatters boss but ex-England midfielder thinks Barkley should be considered by Three Lions chief

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Town star should be in contention for upcoming international squads according to MOTD pundit

Former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas believes that Luton’s Ross Barkley has to be in the thoughts of Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate for his squads leading up to the Euro Championships that take place later this year.

On the day that England announced their final warm-ups for the tournament held in Germany with friendlies against Bosnia & Herzegovina at St James' Park on Monday, June 3, a stadium Barkley starred at on Saturday in the Hatters’ 4-4 draw, plus Iceland at Wembley on Friday, June 7, calls that Town player should be adding to his 33 international caps continue to grow. ​The 30-year-old was given his Three Lions debut when Roy Hodgson was in charge back in September 2013, and has been picked 11 times since Southgate took over in 2016, the last of those in October 2019 when he scored twice and set up another in a 6-0 victory over Bulgaria.

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​The Luton News and Town fans have long been demanding that Barkley should be earning a recall to the national squad, and they are starting to be picked up by the wider media now. With friendlies at home to Brazil and Belgium taking place next month, then Jenas, who won 21 caps himself during his career, believes the ex-Everton and Chelsea player must in the equation after witnessing his display in the eight-goal thriller against his former side, as during his Match of the Day analysis, he said: “He was outstanding, he didn't just stand out, he really dominated that midfield. Looking at Luton and the improvement in themselves as well, him playing in this deeper lying position is what's helped transform the way Luton play.

"It's the simple things sometimes, how comfortable he is receiving the ball anywhere on the pitch. He's the one that they’re able to kind of go to and go ‘right, get us going Ross and then we'll play from there.’ He played his role in getting them back in the game with a lovely free kick which they took very well. He was tenacious at times in midfield, he has this nice blend which I refer to as old Barkley and new Barkley, from when he was younger and he used to drive through midfield.

"He wants to play balls that hurt teams and because he’s got that forward thinking head on him still then he’s trying to play passes that are hurting defences all of the time rather than certain midfielders that might want to play side to side. He took his goal really well, composed in these moments of the game, lovely touch, good finish. I think the change in role, the manager and how he’s asking him to play, the responsibility and obviously there’s been a wake-up call there.

"There's a reason why Ross Barkley and the talent that he is, is where he is. He’s obviously gone off the boil for a while and the questions are going to come now as to whether he should be playing for England, or in England squads is going to be the conversation. The reality is he’s up against (Jordan) Henderson, (Kalvin) Phillips, (Connor) Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) and that’s not to mention the obvious ones of (Declan) Rice and (Jude) Bellingham. It’s whether he can break into that. I think it’s something that Gareth should be having a look at, I just think he’s very different.”

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Hatters chief Rob Edwards has been asked more and more recently about whether he feels that Southgate, who spent his weekend in the Netherlands watching Henderson’s debut for Ajax against PSV Eindhoven, return to the international set-up. It’s not something the Luton boss is eager to get involved in, although has happy to lavish praise on his display in the north east, adding: “I don’t want to create big headlines. Gareth’s very good at his job and knows far more than me. What I know is that I love him, Ross that is now, I like Gareth as well, we love Ross and he’s playing really, really well.

Ross Barkley sends a pass out wide to team-mate Alfie Doughty on Saturday - pic: Liam SmithRoss Barkley sends a pass out wide to team-mate Alfie Doughty on Saturday - pic: Liam Smith
Ross Barkley sends a pass out wide to team-mate Alfie Doughty on Saturday - pic: Liam Smith

"He was great, Ross, we love him, he’s brilliant, he wasn’t perfect today, still one or two things I want more from him, and he knows, but he’s a huge part of us being able to evolve and change a bit really. Since he’s been back in the team, consistently fit and doing what he’s doing, we can take the ball more, we can have more control. We can work on other things that I wasn’t able necessarily able to work on before, so he’s a really important player for us.”