By support

14th Mar, 2017 | 9:00am

Dean Ashton: Everton star as close to Paul Gascoigne as I have seen

By Matt Farr

Former West Ham striker Dean Ashton believes Ross Barkley is a similar talent to Paul Gascoigne.

Barkley, 23, has started to thrive under Ronald Koeman in recent weeks after a slow start to the season, and Ashton has been impressed with his performances.

The England international remains one of the nation’s most talented young stars, but he has often struggled to live up to hype after failing to establish consistency into his game.

But he has since shrugged off the criticism, including from his manager, and been given a new lease of life.

Ashton told TalkSport that he firmly believes that Barkley is the ‘closest he’s seen’ to former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne, backing him to win back his place in the England setup.

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He said: “We all saw Ross Barkley’s talent when he first came into the Everton team. He’s as close to Paul Gascoigne as I’ve seen in my time watching football – the way he can go past players, that strength skill and speed.

“The only thing Barkley hasn’t got is the personality Gazza had. I don’t mean that stupid and crazy personality, more the confidence and arrogance – Gascoigne had that.

“You could just tell that he knew he was good and that he was going to show you he was good. He wanted to entertain.

“He’s been consistent enough his season to definitely warrant another England call-up.”

Barkley was included in Roy Hodgson’s final squad for Euro 2016, but did not make a single appearance as England crashed out in the round of 16 to Iceland.

But he has not featured in the plans of either Sam Allardyce or current England chief Gareth Southgate, but he could regain his place in the side when the squad is named later this week.

He currently has 22 senior international caps, scoring two goals.

His impressive form for Everton in recent weeks has seen him register assists in each of his last two Premier League appearances.

Meanwhile, he netted a goal and an assist during a 6-3 win over Bournemouth at the start of February. He now has five goals and seven assists from 29 appearances in all competitions.

In other Everton news, imminent contract talks are being prepared for this 27-year-old star as a Champions League regular eyes a summer swoop.

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