Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes the criticism John Stones has received is “hard to explain”, and says the defender needs protection.
The 21-year-old was castigated for his mistake which led to Holland’s first goal in their friendly win over England at Wembley on Tuesday.
Even at such a young age Stones has built a reputation as a ball-playing centre-back, but his critics say he should play the percentages once in a while and his midweek mistake was an example of his weakness.
Martinez disagrees, however, with the level of pressure put on Stones – who was the subject of a £38million bid from Chelsea in the summer.
“In my eyes he has been probably the victim of incredible scrutiny that is hard to explain,” said Martinez.
“If we all want English football to do well and the national team to do well we should be a little bit more protective of our players.
“It is all too easy to praise a player and then too easy to criticise a player. I think we should be more rational about where the development is of a footballer.
“He is demanded by everyone to be the perfect footballer but that’s not going to happen. He has learned from his decision and what he does on the pitch.
“At 21 he is well ahead of where he should be and I think we should all be a bit more aware he is a young player.”
Stones has started just one of Everton’s last five matches after returning from injury – and he was withdrawn at half-time in the game he did start.
Martinez has been criticised for keeping the youngster out of the side but the Toffees boss believes it will benefit him in the long run.
“We care about our players and the character he has is what is going to make him the player he can be,” said the Spaniard ahead of the trip to face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“Competition for places keeps you grounded and allows you to understand the way you perform and levels you reach on the pitch have an effect on whether you are to be selected or not.
“That is a part of the process of developing and learning in your position and that is where John is.
“He should be given a bit more time, space and understanding.
“Clearly he has to learn and learn quickly and competition for places in our squad will force him to do that, not any other reason.”