Sheffield Wednesday’s hopes of re-signing loan star Ross Barkley have received a boost after Everton boss David Moyes revealed that he is considering loaning out the teenager again in January.
Barkley played 13 times for Wednesday in a successful loan spell that saw him score four goals, but was recalled to his parent club in November.
He has played only 38 minutes of Premier League football since, however, and was an unused substitute as Everton beat League Two side Cheltenham 5-1 in the FA Cup earlier this week.
Sources at the Hillsborough club suggest that Dave Jones, the Owls manager, wants Barkley to return - and Moyes’ words earlier this week will only offer him encouragement.
“We have to remember Ross is a young boy and we’re bringing him on,” Moyes said.
“If I don’t get him enough first-team opportunities, I will put him back on loan. That’s my thoughts.
“The boy is going to be a very good player but he is still young and still young maturity wise and we have to be wary of that.”
Moyes’ decision on Barkley’s future, in the short-term at least, is likely to be heavily influenced by events during the January transfer window.
But if Barkley is allowed to leave Goodison Park again on a temporary basis, then Moyes will have no qualms with him linking up again with Jones at Wednesday.
“He came back [from Wednesday] a much better player,” Moyes said.
“He had more maturity about him and the games did help him. We have to remember he is just 19 and we should not expect too much, too soon from him.
“Players develop at different times.”
Jones, meanwhile, has dismissed some supporter’s fears that a congested fixture list could hamper their bid for Championship this season.
The Owls, who remain third from bottom in the Championship table, travel to in-form Hull City on Saturday before a trip to Milton Keynes for their FA Cup third round replay against MK Dons on Tuesday.
Neither side managed to break the deadlock last weekend, resulting in a replay against Karl Robinson’s League One side that many Owls fans reckon they could do without.
But Hillsborough boss Jones, who led Cardiff to the FA Cup Final in 2008 and also guided lowly Stockport County to the last four of the League Cup, disagrees.
“As a player, you want to play as many games as you can,” Jones said.
“It means you’re doing something well.
“We have a long schedule going from Saturday to Saturday, but the players just want to play football.
“Clubs will get away with being knocked out sometimes if they’re doing well in the league, and they can say they’re concentrating on that.
“But I think it’s always important to concentrate on the game you’ve got, no matter what team you’ve put out.”
Jones’ charges face an uphill task if they are to come away from the KC Stadium with the points on Saturday.
Second-placed Hull, who are expected to field former Sheffield United man Stephen Quinn, haven’t lost a league game since November - but Jones hopes his Owls players approach the game without any fear.
“Sometimes it is frustrating, because you want to do well,” he said.
“Some of the players [against MK Dons] looked nervous and took the safer option, instead of maybe risking it a little bit more.
“Maybe there’s a little bit of fear here, I don’t know, but if things aren’t going too well and you’re a young, inexperienced player, you maybe want to try too hard and lose focus on what you’re actually doing.
“We want them to get the ball forward and relax on the ball a bit more.”
Jones also acknowledged his side’s struggles in front of goal: “We need to score goals from open play, and at the minute we don’t look like we’re going to do that,” he said.
“But we’ll keep working on it.”
Chris Lines pressed his case for a recall with a goal in Tuesday’s friendly against Rotherham United.
Jermaine Johnson and Chris Maguire scored twice, with Harry Grant also registering in a 6-2 win.
Wednesday will be without midfielder David Prutton for two matches after he picked up his tenth booking of the season in the Owls’ goalless draw with MK Dons.
Prutton accumulated the majority of his bookings while on loan at Scunthorpe United earlier this season.