Stones expected to be fit for Old Trafford trip

by | 31/03/2016  35 Comments  [Jump to last]

The defender suffered a knock towards the end of England's defeat to the Netherlands on Tuesday but has not sustained any lasting injury.

That's according to the Liverpool Echo whose information suggests that the 21-year-old will be available for Sunday's return to Premier League action against Manchester United.

Stones played the whole match at Wembley against the Dutch and was joined in central defence by his club skipper Phil Jagielka in the closing stages as Danny Blind's side ran out 2-1 winners.

Stones has received mixed reviews for his performance, with many pointing out how assured he looked for most of the match and highlighting some of the telling passes he made coming out of defence, not least for the move that led to England's goal.

Unsurprisingly, he has not escaped criticism for an awkward slip as he tried to turn away from his man that eventually led to Danny Rose handling in his area and Vincent Janssen slamming home the resulting penalty.

The fact that it was a meaningless friendly and also a learning experience for the young defender has tempered the critiques, however, and he will remain hopeful that he will still be in Roy Hodgson's thinking when it comes time to pick the Three Lions party for Euro2016.

In the meantime, there is the prospect of a recall for Everton when the Blues make the short trip along the M62 this weekend. With Roberto Martinez's side having suffered three consecutive home defeats in the league, conceding six goals in the process, the manager may feel it is time to shuffle his defensive options and recall Stones to the side.  

Reader Comments (35)

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Paul Andrews
1 Posted 31/03/2016 at 07:40:34
He may start but only if we play 3 centre-halves.

You are right, Lyndon, about it only being a friendly; if he tries the same thing in the Euros against a good side, it could be curtains. He has a lot to learn in the art of basic defending.

In his defence. He is not helped by being saddled with the description "world class" when he clearly isn't.

Darren Hind
2 Posted 31/03/2016 at 08:01:28
I'd be very surprised if Stones hasn't already been told his flight to the Euros is already booked.

It was Stones who the England manager turned to because he didn't have a left-footed center-half. It was Stones who he turned to when he didn't have a right-back. Considering that he has already asked him if he could do a job in midfield, I think that tells its own story.

We all know Roberto has been happy to play Stones in different positions; he's played across the back four for him too. Both managers have asked him to fill in even though there have been far more experienced alternatives.

Now a regular in the England set-up with nearly 70 Premier League games in positions where kids are not generally trusted. You have to pinch yourself to remember he is still only 21. Imagine what a player he will be when he gets a proper manager who recognises what to do with him.

Laurie Hartley
3 Posted 31/03/2016 at 09:33:04
I think Stones will definitely start at Old Trafford. What I am waiting to see is how Martinez is going to accommodate him in the starting line up:

Does he drop Jagielka?
Does he drop Funes Mori?
Does he go 3 at the back?
OR does he play him in front of the back 4?

The manager has a real dilemma with this one. John Stones is the future if we can keep hold of him – but so is Funes Mori. Jagielka is the club captain.

If he plays him in midfield who does he drop – Barry or McCarthy? I am finding it all a bit confusing at the moment – we seem to have a good squad of players but can't find the right mix.

Whatever happens I want to see Stones back in the team. I just feel we have to give him the chance to play his way back into form.

Mark Andersson
4 Posted 31/03/2016 at 09:49:56
No doubt the jury will be out if he plays and how the team is set up.

All the players should be playing for there future if they get selected. Most of us agree we would like to see a new manager.

The Arsenal game was a shambles, if Martinez has lost the players the rest of the season is over. Well it was over in January...

I can't see us winning many games now, we have not had any momentum for the last 18 months.

Big change are on the horizon but I think they are not on the up if we still have Martinez as manager.

Thomas Surgenor
5 Posted 31/03/2016 at 09:53:25
Laurie (#3),

I think Barry is still suspended.

Brian Porter
6 Posted 31/03/2016 at 10:13:03
Barry is definitely suspended. I don't think either Funes Mori or Jagielka deserves to be dropped just to accommodate Stones. Funes Mori in particular showed true international class in Argentina's win over Chile, playing in a properly organised, well drilled defence. (Were you watching, Roberto?)

It might make sense to play him in midfield in Barry's place, where he would have the opportunity to use his ball-playing skills without directly exposing the defence to immediate danger.

Then again, it might be argued that Funes Mori and Stones are the future for our defence and Jagielka should now be playing less than he is at present. As many have said, Jags isn't exactly an inspirational leader as captain, so it will be interesting to see how Bobby Brown shoes cocks this one up.

Laurie Hartley
7 Posted 31/03/2016 at 10:40:54
Yes, Thomas and Brian – I'd forgotten Barry had a 2 game suspension.

I think Barry is harder to replace than McCarthy (Cleverley or Besic).

Maybe that is the "out" for the manager – play Stones in the Barry role.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 31/03/2016 at 10:42:07
Regardless who plays on Sunday we won't be keeping a clean sheet there against the likes of Martial and Rashford.

We always struggle defending against nimble quick attackers, same against Arsenal the other week, Welbeck done us like a kipper.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 31/03/2016 at 11:08:15
It won't happen but I think Harold told us that Funes Mori had played as a defensive midfielder, so leave Stones and Jagielka at the back with Funes Mori and McCarthy in midfield. As I say, unlikely to happen but, if you don't try different changes, things will stay the same, and that is helping no-one.
Alan J Thompson
11 Posted 31/03/2016 at 11:36:11
The matter of whether he plays or not is for the manager and will be another factor deciding fans opinion on whether he stays or goes.
Frank Bortoli
12 Posted 31/03/2016 at 13:06:22
It's time we gave Stones a go at playing as a defensive midfielder as he would seem much more comfortable there than as a centre-back. He lacks the aggression for a centre-back and his ability on the ball and passing suggests he should be more effective in this role.

Such a move would also alleviate the need to mess around with the Funes Mori - Jagielka partnership just to accommodate Stones. I doubt if Stones will stick around if he knows he will be always competing with the two current incumbents.

The other advantage of going down this road is that it would provide a replacement for Barry who has been one of our key players this season, he cannot have many more seasons left in him. If Stones was a successful in this new position it might be the catalyst to keep him here as along term Evertonian.

If Martinez does nothing, he will go as I get the impression he is definitely pissed off.

Michael Williams
13 Posted 31/03/2016 at 13:30:20
After reading comments here since the summer, I am not surprised that many ToffeeWebbers have given up on a 21-year-old playing centre-back. However, I disagree.

Here's the Guardian:

"It was his (John Stones) diagonal slide-rule pass, perfectly weighted, which liberated a scurrying James Milner away down the left as England roused themselves to conjure an exquisite team goal just before the interval. The rat-a-tat of passes, with a Daniel Sturridge dummy thrown in, sliced the Dutch apart, but it was the centre-half who had spotted the break in the first place. He produced something similar in a tighter area for Theo Walcott as England chased the game late on. Therein lies the promise."

No English centre-back, and very few in the world, can do what he did in that game. Twice. You don't take a potential impact difference-maker at centre-back and move him to defensive midfielder. The former is world-class, the latter is much more common.

As the Guardian states, as well as many people here, Stones also makes mistakes. When a young midfielder makes a mistake, it does not often lead directly to a goal. Stones's mistakes are magnified because he plays right in front of his net. He'll get better. He needs support and time. He is too young and has too much talent to give up on.

Jay Wood
14 Posted 31/03/2016 at 13:50:42
John Stones as a defensive, holding midfield? Opposed.

And I will continue to oppose it every time it is mentioned.

People's memories of Stones's qualities seem extremely short. He is 21, playing in an extremely challenging league in an exceedingly challenging position. Even this season, when he is presumed to have been 'poor', he has had some stand-out games in his natural position.

But – quelle surprise! – he has had a loss of form for the first time in his meteoric rise to a regular in the Premier League and the national team.

This very season, he has 'owned' the types of players same claim he gets easily bullied by – the likes of Carroll, Pelle and Diego Costa.

Make no mistake, this dip in form is a test of his character and resolve. But, like Lukaku, Stones appears a well-grounded, intelligent and eloquent – and determined – lad and IMO before much longer his class and ability – at centre-back – will shine through.

And together with Lukaku, I hope Stones will still be plying his trade at Everton for many more years to come.

Kim Vivian
15 Posted 31/03/2016 at 14:35:58
At last – looking forward to the league programme getting back to normal. I think we should revert back to Stones and Jags at the back. Give Mori a rest and he will come storming back when he is rotated back in.

Looking forward to tuning in on Sunday but somewhat apprehensive about the outcome. Man Utd have been looking a deal better lately. My prediction?... 1-1

As an aside... Probably got RM for a while unfortunately but any one got a view on Ruud Gullit as potential replacement seeing as he's put his name up for the Villa vacancy?

Kevin Judge
16 Posted 31/03/2016 at 16:12:01
I would not play John Stones again. Why keep a player who does not want to play for us. We all have short memories of him putting a transfer request in to leave before this season started. He has not been the same player since then.

Paul Conway
17 Posted 31/03/2016 at 16:40:01
Jay Wood @ 14

Well said, you have just saved me some tapping time!

Colin Glassar
18 Posted 31/03/2016 at 18:11:39
Stones has has a tough few months but he will come back stronger IMO. I just hope we will see the benefits of that return to form and not some other team.
William Cartwright
19 Posted 31/03/2016 at 18:34:03
Kim (#15),

Ruud Gullit for manager... An interesting call. I am always impressed with his comments and manner of delivery whenever I've seen him on the telly, and always impressed by his organizational ability on the pitch.

He gets into my top 5 preferred options to Martinez:-

1st – Koeman
2nd – Laudrup
3rd – Howe
4th – Gullit
5th – Atkins

Declan Campbell
20 Posted 31/03/2016 at 19:24:00
William Cartwright, have you honestly got the bloke who manages Sheffield United in midtable in League One and was sacked by Reading as your 5th preferred Everton manager?

And Gullit has not done anything good in management since he managed Chelsea 20 years ago.
Phil Walling
21 Posted 31/03/2016 at 20:40:11
Stones will definitely have to return if only to ensure his place in England's Euro squad and thus maintain his transfer value. I heard Hodgson mention him as possible defensive midfield cover so he MAY have talked over that idea with Martinez. Particularly as Barry is unavailable.
Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 31/03/2016 at 20:52:30
Jay 14, couldn't agree more. He can't defend, so we will turn him into a defensive midfielder? What logic.
Colin Glassar
24 Posted 31/03/2016 at 23:26:41
Gullitt and Neville are perfect examples of great players who are great pundits but terrible, terrible managers.
Anthony Dwyer
25 Posted 01/04/2016 at 01:27:20
I'm glad to see so many ToffeeWebers backing our Stonesy; people have a short short memory when it suits.

You could count on one hand the amount of 21-year-old centre-backs playing like Stones anywhere in the world.

Our Premier League season is over: can't do fuck all, can't go down – play Stones as often as possible, get him as much experience as possible, make him a permanent fixture for next season.

Darren Hind
26 Posted 01/04/2016 at 02:35:41
Is right, Jay (and Tony),

The guy is a unique defender, he sees pockets to step into that others either don't see, or lack the ability and courage to exploit. It's the gift of turning defence into attack in a few strides. When perfected, It will lay waste to any tactics. That is why he has attracted so much attention from the world's top clubs

These people who claim he can't defend simply don't understand what he is doing... Do they really believe he doesn't know he is taking huge risks? Their omelettes must be a bastard to eat if they aren't prepared to break the eggs first.

He knows he can defend. He was doing it with such ease for the first 18 months of his senior career. He also realises he is more than that, different, unique... it's that uniqueness which has the game's top coaches and thinkers fascinated.

If he is to become the world star he has the potential to be, he has to continue to upset the manual readers and the Paul Mersons of this world... break a few more eggs!

John Daley
27 Posted 01/04/2016 at 03:13:54
"Even this season, when he is presumed to have been 'poor', he has had some stand out games in his natural position."

Absolutely. In the Chelsea game at Goodison earlier this season, Stones put in a consummate performance. The best I've seen from an Everton central defender for some time and, certainly, nothing's come close since. Stones oozed confidence and class that day. The confidence has taken a hammering, but a little self-doubt isn't sufficient to send the class into permanent hiding.

Colin Williams
29 Posted 01/04/2016 at 10:13:04
The people who keep criticising Stonsey for absolutely feck-all need a reality check, big time!

Sick of hearing absolute bollocks from so-called supporters who have a nasty negative petty agenda against the most talented young central defender in Premier League...

How the feck you can keep talking shite about our brightest talent, when all our other defensive players have been so inconsistent?

All this so-called age, experience needed to perform consistently in Premier League is crap! Just look at our players, been playing at top level for many years BUT still making basic mistakes on a regular basis: Jagielka, Baines, Coleman, Howard etc (when they should know better). You could also carry on further up the field.

The game's top players gradually decrease their basic errors during their early playing careers and start making better decisions, etc, becoming top performing players – consistently performing at a much more consistent level which creates a better team performance level. This development goes hand-in-hand with top coaches and managers who squeeze out every bit of talent you have to give.

Sadly that seems not to happen with our so-called more experienced players! They keep making basic errors... reasons? Lack of talent! ... Coaches' and management's lack of ability to develop our players to the top level. Yes, I blame our, overpaid talentless so-called management team that consistently fuck-up!

Look at other senior players at other major clubs, we are well behind their consistency level, what is needed to be successful.

Week-in and week-out, so much bullshit, inconsistencies... drabness talk from our leader? Just hope it ends soon.

Dave Ganley
30 Posted 01/04/2016 at 13:22:10
I see Martinez has now publicly come out and stated that Stones must learn from his mistakes. Well it's a bit late to start saying things like this now. It is entirely due to Martinez not rebuking and getting players to learn from their mistakes (imo) that has led to them underperforming and continually making mistakes in the first place.

I can't wait for a decent coach to get hold of these players to train them properly. Alas, I fear that we will still be left with Martinez next season and the likes of Stones, Lukaku et al elsewhere actually starting to realise their potential under a competent coach.

Tony Abrahams
31 Posted 01/04/2016 at 13:44:20
Dave, that's why I can't believe their isn't mayhem behind the scenes at Finch Farm.

It's alright telling people that they must learn from their mistakes, it's actually decent management. But when you don't seem capable of practicing what you preach, how can you!

Michael Williams
33 Posted 01/04/2016 at 14:50:22
A commentor above – "Alas, I fear that we will still be left with Martinez next season and the likes of Stones, Lukaku et al elsewhere actually starting to realise their potential under a competent coach."

I know. Lukaku is just wallowing in potential but just not getting anything done. I guess another coach can get this forward scoring goals. And Stones. He's 21 for gosh sakes. He should have harnessed his massive potential by the age of 20. That's when all professional athletes reach their potential. Am I right?

Peter Murray
34 Posted 01/04/2016 at 15:38:24
Everton's best centre-back pairing is Jagielka and Stones... Period.
Dave Ganley
35 Posted 01/04/2016 at 16:23:33
Michael, Lukaku is constantly left isolated and we just don't play to his strengths. It is in spite of the manager that Lukaku has got the goals tally he has – not because of him. If we played to his strengths all the time, then he could have quite easily had plenty more goals.

As for young Stones, even all the so-called experts and media are taking notice at how he has regressed this season. The clamour for him to go and fulfill his potential will grow in the summer.

But if you think Martinez is doing a fine job with the young players then fair enough.

Dave Abrahams
36 Posted 01/04/2016 at 16:24:08
Michael (33) there is a lot of truth inside your sarcasm, but don't you think Stones should have been told before now when and where to play the ball out of defence? He is going to be a great player, is very good now, but he can be listening and learning throughout his career.

Lukaku is scoring plenty of goals but has quite a lot to learn. Martinez seems to pander to this player more than any other in the squad. Lukaku plays when he wants... he is improving but can switch off quite a lot during games. He needs to focus more for the team and not just his own needs.

Alan J Thompson
38 Posted 02/04/2016 at 16:42:47
Colin (#29), Do you think so many experienced players making mistakes might have something to do with following the manager's instructions – and anyone who doesn't, finds it difficult to get a game, as far back as Distin?
Colin Glassar
39 Posted 02/04/2016 at 16:50:59
I can't put my finger on why so many talented, defensive players (all internationals to boot) make so many mistakes, so consistently.

I'm not exonerating the manager for poor tactics but surely these players know how to clear their lines, push up together, jump to head balls, get their bodies in the way, stop crosses from coming into the box etc.......?

Jim Hardin
40 Posted 02/04/2016 at 17:48:55

Assuming the post is not an April Fool's Day joke, why, Question Mark?

Is it because they are English? Not sure how the Argentinian International is somehow less a player than those two. I don't really see TWers and the media having to make excuses for Funes Mori and his "mistakes" or using the "yeah but" agument or worse, inane qualifiers such as "unique" etc., to refer to his "defending" skills or lack thereof. Must be maybe because Funes Mori doesn't make as many?

Everton's best center pairing currently would not include Stones. Period.

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