High praise from Martinez for John Stones

, 4 April, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
''The complete modern centre-half''
Roberto Martinez has paid tribute to his emerging defensive talent, John Stones, whom he describes as "the complete modern centre-half."

The 19 year-old has been thrust into regular first-team duty while Phil Jagielka recovers from a hamstring injury and has performed with a consistency and maturity beyond his years as the Blues have won five League games on the bounce. And Martinez believes that the youngster possesses all the attributes of the ultimate defender.

Stones' performances, not least his bloodied and bandaged outing against Newcastle at St James' Park that was so evocative of Terry Butcher, have many observers ear-marking him as a future England captain, while at Everton there are now calls for him to become a permanent fixture at the heart of the Blues' defence.

"The first time I saw John was ready, it was in a friendly with Juventus," Martinez said of the January 2013 acquisition from Barnsley.

"He was still a 19-year-old that had very small experience at playing centre-half, but from that point on we've been working very specifically in the concepts of that position.

"I think he's been incredible in the manner that he's taken everything on board. I think his performances have been exceptional."

Though Stones played primarily for the Tykes as a right-back and represented England U20s in the same position, he has clearly blossomed into a composed and dependable centre back.

"John Stones, in my eyes, is the complete modern centre-half; someone that can defend in one-v-one situations, that is very good in the air, that can start the play, has got the composure to get on the ball," Martinez continued. "He's a phenomenal prospect."

There are reports that England manager, Roy Hodgson, is weighing up including Stones in his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup Finals in Brazil after watching him in the Blues' 3-1 win at Fulham last weekend, but Martinez is more cautious in that regard.

"I think we need to remember that young players with big potential need to be allowed to develop that potential," he said.

"It's fair to say that this season he's played a lot of games — I think he's played already 20 games in different competitions — and for a young man at the age of 19, as a centre-half, which is always harder to break into the first-team at an earlier age, is an incredible achievement.

"But we need to give him a bit of breathing space and allow him to enjoy his football a bit more before we put the pressure of a World Cup call-up."

With Jagielka almost certain to miss Sunday's game with Arsenal, Stones will get another opportunity to impress alongside Sylvain Distin as Everton look to put more pressure on the Gunners in the chase for fourth place in the Premier League.

Quotes sourced from Click Liverpool

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