Everton suffer early blow as Barkley faces lengthy lay-off

Everton have suffered an early season blow with the news that star player Ross Barkley could be sidelined with a knee injury until the New Year.

The talented midfielder burst onto the Premier League scene with a number of eye-catching displays last term, which earned him a place in England’s squad for the World Cup Finals. Barkley was expected to star again as the Toffees push for a top-four finish this season, but his progress has been halted after picking up a knee injury in training.

The 20-year-old, who already has nine full international caps, could be out for seven weeks, although it is widely expected that he faces as much as five months out of action. Speaking after the opening day 2-2 draw at Leicester City, coach Roberto Martinez confirmed the youngster faces a significant layoff, but has backed his players to cope.

“The problem is with his medial ligament in his knee and we don’t know how bad it is,” the Spaniard said. “It could be between seven weeks or four or five months. But however long he is out for, we need to make sure we react as a team. Of course, we’re going to miss him a lot. He was looking so sharp in pre-season and we were so unlucky to lose him to an innocuous challenge in training. Now he’s going to be out for a long, long time.”

The Toffees took the lead at the King Power Stadium when Aiden McGeady scored his first goal for the club on 20 minutes, but record signing Leonardo Ulloa levelled for the Foxes just two minutes later. Steven Naismith then restored the lead for Martinez’s men shortly before the break, but substitute Chris Wood ensure the points were shared on 86 minutes.

“It’s nice to get something out of the game having gone behind twice,” said Leicester manager Nigel Pearson. “There was an element of misfortune from our point of view about both but it would have been easy to think things weren’t going our way so I’m really pleased with the way we responded. We’ll need to improve in certain areas but the biggest message from today is that even when we have injuries we are capable of getting a result against quality sides.”

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