Super popular budget fantasy midfielder Ross Barkley started Everton's last match against Tottenham on the bench after making 9 start in a row, losing his place to Leon Osman. This followed increasingly early substitutions on 80 minutes and then 59 minutes in the in GW8 and GW9 respectively. The more pertinent point perhaps is that this has happened pretty much as soon as Martinez has had all his attacking midfield options available to him with the return to fitness of Pienaar.
What does this mean for Barkley's future prospects in your fantasy team?
The good news he's only ever one injury away from making the team, if he cannot get in on merit alone. Should any of Pienaar, Osman, Mirallas, McCarthy or Barry get injured or suspended Barkley will come straight back in with others shuffled around to fill in (for example, Osman will deputise in central midfield for either of Barry or McCarthy). More good news is that his main rival for gametime, Leon Osman, can suffers from loss of form at times.
The bad news though is Barkley was always going to get time on the bench as a young player. Martinez cannot place too much expectation on him, and we can see Osman getting plenty of opportunity from herein, especially with big games with Liverpool and United in the next four weeks.
In truth his form has not been that good anyway. A look at his Form Card below shows that he's not a player to dominate games week on week and after a few good early games is pretty much off the boil. In essence, he really is just a £5.5-6m player at best. This is obviously fantastic for a start price of £4.5m.
He's a great back-up player or as part of rotation with other midfielders - but only if he's starting games. We get the impression with injuries to other midfielders and such that many FPL managers are keen to start Barkley more often than they should.
There's opportunity then to get a little edge on 34% of teams by opting against Barkley, although it depends on your buy price. If you were in early doors at £4.5 or so then he's definitely worth holding on to and seeing how his gametime situation goes. If you purchased closer to his current £5.6m price though or have some cash to spare then you have some options which all look a better prospect over the short term.
Below is an image taken from our latest projections, sorted by the 'Total' points column and filtered to include only midfielders in the £5m - £5.9m bracket. We've excluded Moses and Puncheon as they are bench players now.