John Stones says some painful lessons this season have taught him that there are times when he simply needs to “get rid”.
The cultured Everton centre-half now knows he cannot always try and play his way out of trouble from the back and on occasion he must launch the ball into row-Z.
Stones has endured an up and down season with injury and suspension impacting on the amount of games he has played.
The 21-year-old was sent off against Young Boys in the Europa League last month when he hauled down Guillaume Hoarau in the box after the striker dispossessed him deep in Everton’s half.
And Stones says that chastening experience has taught him that he needs to add a no-nonsense approach to his game if he wants to progress.
“I know now there are times when I’ve just got to get rid – and not get sent off!” Stones said.
“’I’ve got to learn that there is a time to play good football and Sunday against QPR wasn’t one of those days.
“The pitch wasn’t in our favour and it wasn’t the day for us to play.
“QPR pressed us high and from the Young Boys game – and since the start of the season – I have learnt, bit by bit and slowly, that I need to get rid at times.”
Everton’s John Stones in action with QPR’s Sandro
Stones says his change in approach has been mirrored by the team as a whole as Everton’s poor season threatened to drag them into a relegation battle.
The Blues dug in to secure a 2-1 win over QPR on Sunday to make it back-to-back league since October and move them nine points clear of the drop zone.
“We are in that bottom half of the table where we shouldn’t be so we needed to change our style of play a little bit and put our bodies on the line and whatever it took to get the three points, we needed to do that,” Stones said.
“We have got to take each games as it comes and that is how we approached things after Stoke and have got six points from our last two league games.
“We have got to keep going in that direction now, with a positive attitude and knowing that we can win a game however.
“We have needed to put our bodies on the line in order to get a result, we are going to have to do that in the last eight matches of the season.”
Stones was a surprise omission from the England squad for Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Lithuania and the friendly against Italy next week.
The £3m signing has joined up with Gareth Southgate’s under-21s squad instead and is determined to use the games to remind Roy Hodgson of his quality.
“I think I have just got to keep playing my football and not try too hard because that is when things don’t go your way,” Stones added.
“I just need to enjoy my football and I know I will do that with the gaffer at England and the lads there. I certainly enjoy putting the shirt on for England – who doesn’t? – I enjoy every minute of it.”