One to watch: Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley is not afraid of being thrown in at the deep end when England start their World Cup campaign against Italy on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Everton midfielder has just six caps, but played a part in each of England's three warm-up matches, against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras, earning praise for his contributions.

"I feel ready for anything," he told The FA website (www.thefa.com). "It is football, not life or death."

The youngster had a fine season in the Premier League, earning an international call-up in September and coming on as a second-half substitute in England's qualifying match against Moldova at Wembley.

He is confident he can continue that form on the world's biggest stage after impressing in the warm-up games.

"That is what I dream about, playing against the best players in the world," he said. "It's every kid's dream to be doing things like that, and hopefully I will get the chance.

"You have to go on the pitch and get a result and focus on what you have to do on the pitch and not get distracted.

"The top players produce it week in and week out, and they are out there every week giving the same performances."

Although Barkley has not been to South America before, he gained experience of playing at a big tournament with England's Under-20 team in Turkey.

"I went to the World Cup with the under-20s last summer and I learned a lot there - about the (tournament) environment and playing against the big countries," he said.

"I've never been to South America, so the temperatures, preparing for games and being away from home, it will be a good learning curve for me and a great experience.

"After every tournament I feel I have learned something and I come back wanting to progress."

That has to start against Italy in England's opening Group D game in Manaus on Saturday.

"It's very important when you go into a tournament to set the tone in the first game," Barkley told Everton TV.

"With all the big-name players it's going to be a big test playing against Uruguay (England's second Group D opponents), but if we get a good result against Italy we can take confidence into the second game."

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