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Published: 15:35 | 15/9/16

Koeman: Barkley must improve

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has spoken Ross Barkley about his poor form and has warned him he must improve.

After a disappointing Euro 2016, Barkley was left out of Sam Allardyce's first England squad and was subsequently taken off at half-time in Everton's Premier League tie with Sunderland on Monday night.

Everton went on to score three goals in his absence and Koeman admits he was taken off after a poor first half performance.

“There was a reason to change Ross at half-time because he did not play well and lost many balls. Players of that quality can’t lose that many balls," Koeman said ahead of Middlesbrough.

"I had talks with Ross that he needs to improve but okay we’ll see at the weekend."

Koeman does not believe Barkley's poor form is down to missing out with England and he has backed him to bounce back.

“In my opinion that’s the past and what counts now is what happens now. You get game time in the national team because you play at a good level with your club and that’s deserved game time in the national team," Koeman explained.

"That was one game what happened last Monday, we spoke to him and he understands. We showed him the clips and there’s no escape."

The manager went on: "If you look at his qualities, he needs to be the key player between the defenders and the strikers.

"He’s that position in the midfield to create, but also defensively to be part of the team.

"In all aspects he can improve and needs to improve but he is a young player to question.

"It’s always possible to discuss his position. I spoke to him in pre-season about his position and we agreed his best position is midfield.

"These kind of good players can play wide, but if we play three strikers I prefer three strikers in front.

"He can play as the number 10 or the two holding midfield positions."

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