Barkley has been in superb form for Villa since joining on loan

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Dean Smith is backing Ross Barkley to scramble into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next year’s European Championships.

Barkley is facing a crucial four months as he bids to make a return to the national team, after more than a year without an England appearance.

The Chelsea midfielder has impressed at Aston Villa after joining on loan for the season, scoring two goals and providing one assist, while forming a fine understanding with Jack Grealish.

Yet Barkley has not featured for England since the 6-0 win over Bulgaria in October last year, where he scored twice, and revealed his decision to join Villa was fuelled by his desire to appear at the Euros.

England do not play again until March’s World Cup qualifiers but Smith insists Barkley still has time to win back his place.

"It’s a great four months coming up for him. He’s playing for Aston Villa and he knows he’s got four months of hard work and good performances to show everybody that he should be in that squad,” he said.

Barkley scores for England against Bulgaria in October last year – his last appearance for his country

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"In the little time I’ve worked with him so far, his attitude and application have been first-class. Long may that continue.

"There’s still time for him [to get in the squad for the Euros], I believe so. He’s a quality player and I’m thankful that he’s working with Villa at the moment, and I’m thankful to Chelsea for loaning him."

While Barkley is targeting a place back in Southgate’s squad, Grealish has made a huge impression this month after his performances in the Nations League against Belgium and Iceland.

The Villa captain was overlooked by Southgate earlier this year but has now put himself in serious contention for a regular place in England’s starting XI.

Smith said: “Jack is a confident player and he knows he’s got ability, but doing it on the world stage against the No. 1 ranked team and playing as he did will give him a lot of confidence.

“I was pleased and proud to see him performing that way – and I was especially pleased on Wednesday to see him come off after 76 minutes too!”