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Lukaku: Ross Barkley can be the next Wayne Rooney

Rom is full of praise for his teammate after a successful return to the side against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Jan Kruger

Romelu Lukaku believes Ross Barkley can prove to be a catalyst for success for both Everton and England following his return from injury.

Barkley was thrust straight into the starting line-up against Aston Villa on Saturday after recovering from a knee ligament injury suffered on the eve of the new campaign in August.

The 20-year-old has only been in full training for a couple of weeks but showed little signs of rustiness, putting in a typically dynamic display.

As manager Roberto Martinez said after the game: Barkley was "born to play football".

Barkley's presence seemed to give everyone a lift, both in the crowd and on the pitch. It is perhaps little surprise then that the players put in their most convincing performance of the season so far, winning for the first time in the league at home and keeping just their second clean sheet.

Barkley was involved in much of Everton's good attacking play, including laying the ball off for Lukaku to score the decisive second goal just after half-time.

Lukaku is one of a number of players who have under-performed this season but he has always played better when Barkley has been on the field. It seems no coincidence that he is back scoring and Everton are back winning now Ross is fit again.

Their renewed partnership could well be the key to Everton's success this season, with the Belgian's latest comments also revealing they have struck up a friendship off the field.

"He is like a friend and brother to me off the pitch. I am very happy that he is back on it because he brings something that the whole team needs.

"He has that rawness, that skill, that power. He is a perfect partner for me to play up front with and I am very happy that he is back.

"There are loads of players who can help me, but he has something that none of us have. I can’t explain it. He is the best player in our team."

Lukaku believes Barkley can also make an impact with the England side, playing in the number 10 role to help get the best out of captain Wayne Rooney, before eventually replacing him.

"He will be somebody that the England team will rely on. At the moment, they rely on Wayne Rooney but I think that will be Ross in the future.

"There are a lot of players who want to play No.10 for England and when he is 100 per cent fit I think he is the one who can play there.

"If Rooney is playing up front because he is the captain, then I think Ross will be England’s No.10 definitely."