Ross Barkley can learn a harsh lesson from the shocking attack he suffered while out celebrating Everton's win over Leicester City, according to former Blues star Michael Ball.
CCTV footage emerged earlier today which shows the 23-year-old midfielder being punched by a stranger in a city centre bar.
Barkley shone during the 4-2 win over reigning champions Leicester at Goodison yesterday, creating Romelu Lukaku's first goal.
He is believed to have headed out later with friends and was injured during the incident at 1am.
It is understood that Barkley was well enough to take part in a warm-down training session at Finch Farm this morning.
Merseyside Police are investigating.
ECHO columnist Ball said the incident should make Wavertree-born Barkley more careful in future, but that being a Premier League footballer and socialising in your home town is a fraught prospect.
Ball, who made 121 appearances for the Toffees between 1996 and 2001, said: "I should be talking about Ross Barkley's brilliance on the pitch after he helped Everton win but it's a sorry state of affairs that off-the-field matters are now dominating discussions about him.
"He's a young kid and they've had a good win. You want to go out, relax and let your hair down. If he's not getting too carried away then I imagine the club would be fine with that.
"You've got that time out of football to relax and spend time with your friends.
"It happened to me when I was a young kid, you've got to be aware of where you're going and who you're with because there are people who are out to cause trouble.
"Ross will have to be wary to make sure he's not left on his own.
"When you're out and about you speak to a lot of fans, people who want a bit of time with you and autographs and that's all great, there's a fantastic feeling when it happens but there's another side to it.
"One of people wanting to cause a reaction from you for one reason or another and you've got to try and be a bit clever and not let your guard down ?especially with social media these days and I just hope this footage has been released to find the perpetrator.
"You can't always express yourself how you want when you're in the public domain.
"It's a difficult one because on the other hand you don't want to be pushing fans away and looking arrogant either so trying to find the right balance is really hard.
"Sometimes it's best just to leave the place and get out, but when it's so surprising like it appears to be in this particular instance you don't know what to do.
"Some people might say you shouldn't be out at all as a professional sportsman, but it's a mental break more than anything.
"Hopefully it will end up being something that Ross can learn from ?maybe he should come out for a pint with me in the old men's boozers."