By Matt Farr

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley insists he would pick Leighton Baines in his fantasy team over any of his other teammates.

The 23-year-old England international opted against naming star goalscorer Romelu Lukaku as his fantasy pick, which comes as a considerable surprise.

Instead, he chose to name veteran defender Leighton Baines as his hidden gem, singing the praises of the 32-year-old.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he said: “My hidden gem would be Leighton Baines.

“He gets a lot of assists because he’s up and down the pitch and he gets goals. He’s our penalty taker so if we win pens he’s on them.

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“He’s the most likely out of the others to add points to the fantasy team.”

So far this season, Baines has scored two goals and contributed three assists for the club from 20 appearances in all competitions.

His last goal for the club helped Everton to an impressive 3-0 Premier League win over Southampton on January 2.

He remains a key part of an Everton side that has gone seven games unbeaten in the league, and part of a defence that has kept five clean sheets from their last seven matches.

He showed his true attacking colours during the 2014-15 campaign, however, finishing the season with an impressive three goals and 13 assists to his name.

Everton teammate Lukaku, on the other hand, who was overlooked by Barkley, has been the club’s star performer once again this season.

The Belgium striker has netted 17 times from 26 appearances, including a four-goal haul in the 6-3 win over Bournemouth on February 4.

In other Everton news, Joe Williams has shared his delight on Twitter after signing a new deal with the club.

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