Everton manager Ronald Koeman says Ross Barkley’s omission against Manchester City should act as a “wake up call”.
Barkley, who has already lost his place in the England squad, was an unused substitute in what was arguably the Toffees’ biggest game of the season to date at the Etihad Stadium.
Koeman’s men took a creditable 1-1 draw against the Premier League leaders with a backs-to-the-wall performance that may not have made the best use of Barkley’s attacking qualities.
But while there was a heavy hint that the 22-year-old would return at Burnley on Saturday, the Dutchman also indicated that he wanted more from the local favourite.
Asked how Barkley had reacted to his demotion, Koeman said: “He was okay, very disappointed but you need to be disappointed if you don’t start.
“In my opinion it was the best line-up to have the best chance at Manchester City last week.
“If I am not totally happy or it’s a tactical question then he doesn’t start. I still believe in his qualities but maybe its a good wake up call for him last weekend.
“He is already playing four years in the first team. You are not any more ‘a talent’, that means you need to show more and improve.
“I understand if I get questions about him. If Rooney is not playing for (Manchester) United, the manager will get questions about Rooney.”
Barkley began the season with two goals in his first three matches and will be hoping for a chance to add to that tally at Turf Moor.
“I did not start with him (at City), but it can be different for the weekend,” said Koeman.
“You like to have the best team. We will have more ball possession normally this weekend than we had at Manchester City.
“We need more attacking... more creativity, that can be a reason to start with one or two different players.”
Koeman also revealed that left-back Leighton Baines, who has been out for more than a month, has suffered an aggravation of his hamstring problem.
The England international was well on the way to full fitness but suffered pain after a behind-closed-doors friendly against Wigan.
“Leighton has a setback in his hamstring injury,” said Koeman.
“He had the normal program, played 45 minutes against Wigan and the day after he was a little bit stiff. They took an MRI and it was not good enough to continue.
“It’s tricky because maybe we need to wait longer until he’s really 100 per cent.
“It’s always a difficult problem to express how long it takes or when he’ll be back.”