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3 Mar 2014 22:38

Blues boss believes the young defender is a future England international

John Stones

Everton FC defender John Stones has started just five Premier League matches since last year’s transfer deadline day switch from Barnsley.

But the assured and decisive way in which he handled England striker Andy Carroll on Saturday has convinced Blues boss Roberto Martinez that the 19-year-old is a future England international in the making.

Stones has started seven of the Blues last 11 games in all competitions since making his full debut on a windswept, rain-lashed New Year’s Day at Stoke.

But it was his maturity in dealing with the aerial threat of West Ham’s England centre-forward Andy Carroll – introduced after 29 minutes at Goodison – which has impressed Martinez most.

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“I think that was as good a test as John is going to get,” said the Everton manager.

“Making your debut as a centre-half at the Britannia Stadium is going to test you, but when you have to play against Andy Carroll it’s not good enough just to be strong and physical and cope with 50-50 balls, it’s understanding when and when not to challenge, having a good relationship with your partner – and he was magnificent today.

“He showed that we have a future England international at senior level and someone with an immense, immense career.”

Stones only has a handful of Blues appearances to call on from his memory banks, but asked if Saturday’s display was one of his best to date, he said: “I’d say it’s up there. It was a good performance from the lads and for me personally I really enjoyed the game.”

Stones has featured twice at full-back – but his most assured displays have come at centre-half and he added: “I can play both, the centre or the right, and if the gaffer wants me to play either I can do a job, but I think at the minute I’m really enjoying my football at centre-half.

“Jags is always there supporting me, as well as Sylvain – in fact all the team does. But Jags is always the first to come and give me advice and praise me, as well as the gaffer who puts a lot of faith in me personally which I can’t thank him enough for.”

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