Chelsea’s £50m summer target thinks he is best suited as a striker

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who is being linked with a £50 million move to Chelsea, feels he can offer more by playing as a striker.

“I’m a striker,” the 21 year old told the Premier League’s official site. “I feel I can have my greatest impact there because I’m free to roam around the pitch, take players on, have shots and create chances.”

Barkley, who has caught the eye of the best clubs in the Premier League, has had a dip in form this season, but isn’t concerned.

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“From my point of view I haven’t done as well as I know I can, but things like this happen.

“You have to go through bad days to get to the great days you have in your career. Everything’s a learning curve.”

Barkley’s dip in form has coincided with Everton’s poor season but the England international insists the club will bounce back and he isn’t fazed by pressure.

“We haven’t been going through the best period at the moment but we’re going to come through this and be really good at the end of it. I don’t feel pressure. I believe in myself and I know what I can do.

“It’s not me feeling pressure, it’s just me putting pressure on myself if I don’t do my best, and I know I can do better.”

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Barkley has only scored twice in the Premier League, registering just 21 shots, whereas last campaign saw him net six times with 50 efforts on goal.

Whether or not Barkley is right about his playing position is for current boss Roberto Martinez to decide, but with reports linking him with the likes of Chelsea this summer, he will want to put in his best performances until the end of the season to remind everyone what he is capable of.

Barkley is in line for an appearance in England’s friendly against Italy tonight and will be keen to impress, but it is doubtful that manager Roy Hodgson will elect to play him as a striker.

Is Ross Barkley best suited to playing upfront? Or is he best as a midfielder?

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Wayne Rooney says England are to be feared

Wayne Rooney has stated England have what it takes to be feared as a footballing nation as they maintain their 100 per cent record in Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of England’s friendly with Italy on Tuesday night, the Manchester United forward feels the players have what it takes to be feared.

“The players are so quick and when we lose the ball we want to be aggressive and win it back quickly.

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“I am sure you have heard the manager talk about those little ‘furies’ – that when we lose the ball we have to win it back as quickly as possible.

“With the players we have got, we have to play like that.”

England are unbeaten in their last eight games, winning the last seven, and have rapidly improved since their hugely disappointing World Cup performance in 2014.

And Rooney has highlighted the importance of teams not wanting to face England.

“You don’t want to go into games and teams enjoy playing against you.

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“You want teams to look at England and think, ‘we know we have a tough game, it is going to physically hard against them, we are going to have to defend and we are going to have to be good on the ball to keep the ball’.”

England face arguably their toughest task since the World Cup last year on Tuesday evening against Italy and can send out a message to other nations if they can defeat the four-time World Champions in Turin.

Are England a nation to fear in world football?

International Friendly Preview and Prediction: Italy vs England

Competition: International Friendly – Italy vs. England

Venue: Juventus Stadium, Italy – Tuesday, March 31 – 19:45 BST

Match Odds: Italy 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – England 23/10

Match Preview

England face Italy in Turin on Tuesday night in what is a blockbuster friendly to cap off the international break for the Three Lions.

These two nations have established quite a rivalry over the years. This is a fixture that saw David Beckham captain England for the first time and also saw Paul Ince wear a bloodied head bandage in that famous 0-0 draw in Rome that clinched qualification for the World Cup in 1998 for England.

It’s a fixture that has seen the nations meet four times in major competitions, including last summer’s World Cup as the Italians sealed a 2-1 victory against England in both sides’ opening games.

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But it was a disappointing summer in Brazil for both teams as they crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage behind Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.

Italy are coming into Tuesday’s game off the back of a 2-2 draw away in Bulgaria on Saturday in their European qualifier, keeping up their impressive record of going unbeaten through their last 45 qualifying fixtures, dating back to 2006.

Debutant Eder scored a late equaliser in Saturday’s draw in Sofia and the Azzurri are now two points off top spot in Group H, behind leaders Croatia who they play next in Zagreb on June 12th.

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Italy’s preparation for the match has been hampered by reported death threats towards manager Antonio Conte. They came after midfielder Claudio Marchisio picked up an injury in training which was said to rule him out for months but that has now been confirmed as weeks. Another blow for Italy is that Gianluigi Buffon missed the Bulgaria match with flu and is a doubt to face England.

For Roy Hodgson, everything is looking fantastic in the Euro 2016 qualifiers after another win left them on 15 points with 15 goals scored following their 4-0 demolition of Lithuania at Wembley on Friday night.

England’s very own debutant Harry Kane scored on his debut for the Three Lions and he could start for against Italy on Tuesday.

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England play Slovenia in their next qualifier on June 14th, and a win against the Italians will only keep boosting the confidence with the team hungry for future success.

England have seen some of their squad from the Lithuania match either head back to their clubs or pick up injuries that have ruled from out of the match against the Italians but the remaining members of the team will want to impress against one of Europe’s top sides.

Team News

Italy will definitely be without Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo, while doubts linger over Daniele De Rossi and Gianluigi Buffon. Southampton striker Graziano Pelle will be pushing to start in attack.

For England, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Leighton Baines and James Milner will miss the trip. Ryan Bertrand has been called up as a replacement for Leighton Baines. After his impressive goal on Friday, Tottenham’s Harry Kane will be hopeful of forcing his way into the England starting eleven alongside Wayne Rooney, who needs just two goals to match Bobby Charlton’s all-time England goalscoring record.

Key Points

Italy’s last five: W/W/D/W/D

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: In 25 matches between the two nations, there has only been three 0-0 matches so we should see goals in Turin.

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Key Player: Wayne Rooney – The England captain is just two goals away from Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for England. He came agonisingly close to equalling it against Lithuania as he had multiple chances in front of goal. His confidence will be sky-high and he could cause the Italians problems.

Score Prediction

Italy 1-2 England – Without Pirlo pulling the strings for Italy, they lack so much creativity and that will be a huge boost for England. The Three Lions’ forceful attacking could lead to a goal or two and Hodgson will expect to see his side gain revenge for their 2-1 loss in Brazil last summer