Barkley is England star in the making.
FINDING someone with a positive word about England at the moment is like finding a job in football that Alan Curbishley isn't interested in. But while perennially-overlooked Curbs remains ever hopeful, even the most tub-thumping supporters of the national team are beginning to wonder why they bother.
Another major tournament, another flop. The sting may have been lessened by drab the familiarity of it all, but it still makes any excitement whatsoever about the Three Lions difficult to muster.
However, tonight at least one reason to be cheerful will emerge when Ross Barkley starts his first game of the tournament just as England bow out.
It may be too late to have any impact on their fortunes in Brazil, but at least it will ensure the Everton midfielder gets another chance to show what he can do on the grand stage.
And, as Evertonians can attest, what he can do is almost limitless.
This is a player whose potential is overwhelmingly vast. As Roy Hodgson tried to point out before England had even touched down in Rio, he is not the finished product yet, but even at this stage in his development it might have helped if the uninspiring former Liverpool manager had used Barkley a little more frequently.
Roy "He's got drive, he's got energy, but he's got to learn when to release the ball," was Hodgson's damning assessment of his performance after the 20-year-old turned on the style while collecting only his fourth cap in the warm-up clash with Ecuador.
"For every good turn there was a time when he lost the ball and put us on the back foot defensively," added Hodgson, a touch churlishly even if he later explained he was simply trying to protect the youngster from over-hype.
It's not the manager's motives anyone questioned. Blues who watched Barkley closely last season, particularly around the middle part of the campaign, could be left similarly frustrated as he slipped in and out of games or lost the ball attempting something elaborate.
Yet they bit their tongue because they know he's worth it. They know they have, in their manager's words, the most talented midfielder of his age in Europe on their books.
Yet even after Barkley had set up Rickie Lambert's goal that started with a nutmeg on Jorge Guagua before a typically-supercharged surge that led to England's second, Hodgson was unconvinced.
Or rather the England bosses muddled review suggested he was.
It's hardly an earth-shattering revelation that the England manager is cautious and prone to a safety first approach.
But for all the talk of the youthful attacking options in the squad there was little spark in the final third once the group D action got going, as Hodgson preferred to cram round pegs into square holes with Wayne Rooney accommodated, while a player so similar to him in terms of his early vibrancy and threat was a substitute for the defeats by Italy and Uruguay.
That's not to say Ross didn't get his chance. Half an hour against the Azzurri and around 25 minutes against Luis Suarez & Co was afforded to him, more than some; most notably James Milner who must wonder why he was there.
But in each situation the Wavertree-wonder was thrown into the mix when England were losing. A reactionary substitution in games when the pattern of the contest had emerged.
Against Uruguay in particular, the game had seemed perfect for Barkley's energy and drive in midfield from the beginning.
If Hodgson was willing to trust him not to give the ball away when his side was losing and any such errors would have been even more damning, why not from the offset? That's written without intimate knowledge of the instructions Hodgson may have given to Barkley during their time in South America.
Hodgson Without an insight into whether or not the 66-year-old attempted to curb the midfielder's adventure as he tried to make him adapt to his rigid game-plan.
Thankfully the shackles are off for Barkley once he returns to Merseyside.
He's trusted - or rather given the mandate to shine without fear, by Martinez - something which he wasn't in Brazil.
In the meantime, don't be surprised if he produces something against Costa Rica that makes you think 'what if?'...
It'll be a question that might keep a small selection of patriotic footy fans on Merseyside awake for a while.
At least until August 16, when he'll be back in blue ready to follow a breakthrough campaign of revelatory progress with the season when he truly arrives. If Barkley can bring consistency to every other attribute; his two-footed grace, power, speed, vision, balance and goals such as his sign-off stunner against Manchester City it really will be exciting times.
Something to be smile about then, even if Ross never did get to make the Lions roar this summer.
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley will tonight be given a belated chance to shine for England at the World Cup