DAVE Jones, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, is convinced Everton youngster Ross Barkley has benefited from the experience of competing in the hustle and bustle of the Championship.
During a two-month loan stay at Hillsborough, Barkley featured 13 times for the Owls, including 12 starts, hitting four goals.
With Phil Neville sidelined until the New Year and Republic of Ireland international Darron Gibson on the comeback trail, Toffees boss David Moyes decided to recall the gifted 18-year-old to bolster his midfield options.
Jones is disappointed Barkley has gone back to Everton but feels the teenager returns to Merseyside an improved player.
He told The Star: “It is a big shame Ross has returned to Everton.
“He is a good young prospect. He has done relatively well here. You can see the talent he has got.
“Ross will make the odd mistake because he is a young player. It is there for everyone to see how good the kid is and he will develop and get stronger now that he has had a taste of first-team football.”
The Wednesday chief has thanked Everton for allowing Barkley to further his footballing education with the South Yorkshire club.
When asked about the possibility of re-signing Barkley, Jones said: “Maybe in the future. You never know with the big clubs.
“We knew, with Ross being an academy loan, that they could recall him. Ross enjoyed it here. He has been super around the place and will be missed.”
Moyes watched the Owls fixtures with Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers to check on Barkley, one of his young protégées, progress.
“We’ve had him watched in all the games,” said Moyes. “For the first three or four games it took him a little bit of time to settle, but he has then made a bigger impression.
“Ross has done great. He is a young boy, 18, and those games in the Championship will bode well for us and for him. We put Ross out to try and get him ready for Premier League action.”