By Matt Bullin

Everton boss Ronald Koeman has revealed Ross Barkley started Saturday’s 1-0 loss against Swansea on the bench for tactical reasons.

Barkley and Enner Valencia were replaced in the Dutchman’s starting XI by Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas.

The 23-year-old England star came on at half-time to replace Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but by then his side were already a goal down, after Fernando Llorente opening the scoring at the Liberty on the half-hour mark.

Barkley’s introduction did little to raise his team’s game and they could not find the net, meaning Llorente’s goal proved decisive.

The result means Swansea climb out of the bottom three with just two games left to play, and the Toffees remain in seventh.

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Barkley has been a mainstay of Koeman’s side for much of the season, so his exclusion from the starting XI came as a surprise and fans were divided whether his omission was the right call or not.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo after the match, Koeman revealed he thought Barry was a better fit to face Swansea when asked why Barkley did not start the match.

He said: “We wanted to have that control in the midfield, and I thought that we had that. But OK, you need to make those kind of decisions as a manager.

“We tried to find productivity in the team, and we arrived with a different solution. The diamond that Swansea play, that was the reason I brought Gareth [Barry] in.”

Barkley has made 34 appearances in the Premier League this season, scoring four goals and providing nine assists.

The 22-time England international is embroiled in a contract dispute with his club, and is currently refusing to sign a extension to his deal, which enters its final year this summer.

That has led to speculation that he could be on his way out of Goodison Park this summer.

In other Everton news, Ian Wright delivers his verdict on this 23-year-old’s future at the club.

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