Sarri ad­mits mid­fielder had a poor start with him but has worked his way into the first team

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT -

MAU­R­IZIO SARRI has claimed that when he first took over at Chelsea, Ross Barkley was “in trou­ble”.

But now the Eng­land mid­fielder, who will face his boy­hood club Ever­ton to­mor­row for the first time since leav­ing Good­i­son, has over­taken Ruben Lof­tuscheek in the peck­ing or­der at Stam­ford Bridge.

The bat­tle for places in Sarri’s mid­field at Chelsea is in­tense, with Jorginho, N’golo Kante, Barkley, Lof­tus-cheek, Ma­teo Ko­vacic, and Cesc Fabre­gas all bat­tling for places, and Danny Drinkwa­ter seem­ingly out in the cold.

But Barkley, af­ter a start un­der Sarri which the Ital­ian ad­mits was far from per­fect, has made him­self a real con­tender – and won an Eng­land re­call.

Barkley (left) played the en­tire 90 min­utes as Chelsea took their un­beaten run this sea­son to 17 games by reach­ing the last 32 of the Europa League with a 1-0 win at BATE Borisov on Thurs­day night. Sarri’s side are now the only un­beaten team in all of Europe’s top five leagues.

The 24-year-old, who made 150 ap­pear­ances for Ever­ton be­fore join­ing Chelsea last Jan­uary in a £15mil­lion deal, has hit

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