Roberto Martinez believes John Stones can become one of the best defenders England has produced – and is in the “right environment” at Everton to fulfil that potential.
England defender Stones has been the latest to be criticised after his error led to Swansea’s opening goal on Sunday, with our Monday Verdict suggesting the player was too defensively naive for Roy Hodgson to gamble on at Euro 2016.
However, Martinez has no doubts about the centre-back’s enduring quality.
“John is 21 and has played 68 games in the Premier League. I would never judge a player until he plays 100 starts in any league,” he said.
“John is the first one to know when he plays well and plays badly. You have to learn from those situations.
“Some of his performances this season have been magnificent. Is he the finished article? Clearly not because he is 21 and has played only 68 games.
“Whatever the judgement and criticism from outside we accept it but I think John Stones is in the perfect environment to fulfil his potential and become one of the greatest players England has ever seen.”
Stones will have Phil Jagielka back alongside him on Wednesday as Everton’s captain returns after being rested at the weekend but midfielder Muhamed Besic and forward Kevin Mirallas have been ruled out with injury.
Martinez expects Jagielka’s presence to make a difference.
“It would be daft to say that you don’t miss a player like Phil Jagielka,” he added.
“His influence is always there. Phil is a real influence in the dressing room and it is important he is fully refreshed.”