Gareth Barry
Gareth Barry is a crucial player for Everton, according to Roberto Martinez. Getty Images

Roberto Martinez thinks Gareth Barry is "one of the best English players ever". The Everton boss, 42, has heaped praise on the Toffees midfielder following another impressive display against his former club Manchester City in their 2-1 win in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final on 6 January.

Martinez lauded Barry's professionalism and consistency during the course of his career, which began in 1998. The Spaniard thinks the midfielder is, in fact, among the best players ever to grace the English game.

"I have never seen a player with such an incredible professionalism as Gareth Barry," he said, according to the BBC. "Gareth is one of those players who gets under-rated. The reason we have so many developing young players is there are leaders in the mould of Gareth Barry. It is no coincidence when we have Gareth Barry around them."

The Toffees boss said he has always been able to depend on the former England international, who made 53 appearances for the Three Lions between 2000 and 2012. "For me, he is one of the best English players ever. He could reach 600 Premier League appearances this season," he claimed.

Earlier this season, meanwhile, Barry backed his Everton team-mate Ross Barkley to emulate the success of former England stars Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Barry, 34, said the creative midfielder has all of the tools needed to become as good as them.

"Ross has got all the ability to go on and be a really top player," Barry said. "He has got all the potential to become as good as them.

"He's got everything that they had, to match their ability, but the one thing he's going to need is consistency: performing, scoring goals, assisting on a regular basis, and those two players did that for 10, 12 years in the Premier League, so that's the target for Ross."