17 August 2013 20:40

Everton manager Roberto Martinez praised Ross Barkley following his “perfect” performance in the 2-2 draw with Norwich City on Saturday.

The England Under-21 international’s fledgling career has been dogged by injuries, but following an eye-catching pre-season, he justified a place in Martinez’s first competitive starting XI.

After Norwich went ahead through Steven Whittaker, Barkley hammered a shot past John Ruddy to equalise, before goals from Seamus Coleman and Ricky van Wolfswinkel ensured it ended all square.

However, it was Barkley’s overall play that impressed Martinez the most.

The Everton manager said: “Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football and Ross has the talent. What I’m pleased about with Ross is he wants to learn, develop and listen.

“To have a player of that ability at that age is an incredible asset for us. He was perfect today.

“Many people will speak about the quality of the goal, but that’s something he does every day in training. I’m most happy about is his overall contribution.

“Tactically, he was outstanding and he worked very hard for the team. It was a very mature performance.

“I’ve seen that a lot in pre-season and he showed he is willing to help the team. He was excellent and he deserved his goal.”

On his team’s overall performance, the former Wigan boss added: “I was obviously pleased with the chances we created.

“We all know that Norwich at Carrow Road are a difficult unit to break down, so I couldn’t be happier with the manner in which we were patient in our build-up, we created good chances to score good goals from open play.

“Overall, I’d say we deserved the three points but we conceded two soft goals, which is the area of the performance in which we need to improve.”