EVERTON midfielder Ross Barkley feels his experience on loan at Sheffield Wednesday will help him in his bid to win a first-team place under David Moyes.
The 18-year-old returned to the club’s Finch Farm training ground this week after his two-month stay at Hillsborough came to an end on Monday.
With captain Phil Neville likely to be out for two months after a knee operation, Kevin Mirallas and Victor Anichebe sidelined with a hamstring injuries and defender Tony Hibbert’s calf problem keeping him out, there are spaces starting to appear in the squad.
Barkley believes playing regularly in the Championship has improved him and he is looking to continue to progress under Moyes, who watched him in person twice during his loan spell against Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers.
“It was nice to know he was watching,” said the teenager, who scored four times in 13 appearances. “It shows he wants to know how I’m getting on, how I’m progressing and how I’m learning.
“Now I just want to make an impression. I believe I’m better prepared now, more consistent. The manager’s just said to do what I’m doing in training, do what I’m doing in matches and be ready to take my chance.”
Barkley added: “It was valuable experience, which I needed because playing in the under-21s, it’s good, but you need to be playing competitive football for points.
“By going away I feel like I’ve turned into a better player. I’ve learned quite a lot.
“The players talk more because they’re fighting for points and we were low in the league and trying to get up.
“Also with the under-21s, it’s not really as physical as it is in the Championship, and it’s much better playing in front of crowds too.”