Midfielder Ross Barkley may resume training with the first team as early as next week. Barkley suffered a knee injury during the preseason and was ruled out for several weeks, but the midfielder has responded well to treatment and Manager Roberto Martinez expects Barkley to train next week.
During his pre-Manchester United press conference, Martinez had this to say about the progress of Barkley:
Ross Barkley is developing well and I hope that he can join the group maybe next week...as early as next Wednesday.
When asked if Barkley could return to the lineup at the conclusion of the upcoming international break, Martinez was quick to temper expectations:
No, I think that's too early. I think he would be back to working with the team after the international [break]...we don't know how long it will take for Ross to be able to be match fit.
Martinez was understandably cautious about giving an exact timetable for the return of his star midfielder, but the fact that Barkley will be returning to training is a positive sign.
Barkley has responded very well to treatment and appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery. Additionally, he gave an update about his health via his Twitter account.
Feeling good after a full week with our fitness coach @MattTaberner ⚽️— Ross Barkley (@RBarkley20) October 3, 2014
Everton do not want to rush Barkley back into action, but the team could certainly use a player of his caliber as they have struggled to get going in the early stages of the season. While Steven Naismith has performed admirably in Barkley's absence, the lack of depth in central midfield has hurt Everton this season.
Leon Osman has struggled when playing behind the striker and there appear to be few other options behind him. The return of Barkley would not only help the team in their Premier League fixtures, but also in Europa League competition.
Barkley will not necessarily help Everton's defensive woes, but the midfielder could provide a spark to the club that is desperately needed as the Toffees look to get their season back on track and make a run at the top four.