Allardyce ready to select Barkley despite contract uncertainty
The uncertainty around Ross Barkley's contract situation will not deter Sam Allardyce from playing the England international once he is fit in January, according to the Everton manager.
Barkley is yet to play this season due to a long-term hamstring problem, though he has still been strongly linked with moves elsewhere.
The attacking midfielder's Everton contract expires at the end of the season and he could depart the club on a free transfer if he does not agree terms on a new deal.
Barkley rejected a new contract last season and nearly joined Chelsea in August, only to pull out late on due to being unsure about leaving Goodison Park while injured.
— Everton (@Everton) December 22, 2017
Allardyce accepts the situation is very much in Barkley's hands and has previously suggested that the player could even leave in January, but the manager says the "door is always open" until a final decision is made.
"Ross had a bit of run out [in training] and I think if everything continues the way it is, he will be back early January," Allardyce told reporters at a news conference ahead of Saturday's visit of Chelsea.
"I don't think it's in our hands at the minute. It's in Ross' hands. He knows the door is always open if he wants to talk about staying.
"It's not a case of the door being shut. It is always going to be open. Whether he chooses that route will determine it. Who knows what will happen in January."
Everton have been linked with several players ahead of the January transfer window opening, though Sunderland's Lamine Kone – who Allardyce worked with at the Stadium of Light – should not expect a call from his former boss.
"Not at the moment," Allardyce said when asked of a potential move for the centre-back.
"He was one of the outstanding defenders they have produced. He helped Sunderland stay in the Premier League [in the 2015-16 season], since then I am not sure what has happened in his career.
"That puts a doubt about his ability to sustain that level of performance. I am not sure if I would be interested or not. He was a fantastic footballer and lad during my time there."