Stones confident of U21 success

Date published: Thursday 21st May 2015 2:27

The Everton defender is confident after Gareth Southgate’s side breezed through qualifying, dropping two points and conceding only two goals in 10 matches.

But the national side have managed just one runners-up spot in 2009 since last winning the tournament in 1984 but Stones is determined to change that.

Ahead of the tournament in the Czech Republic next month, Stones said: “With the players we have it is going to be an exciting tournament and we will go into it looking to win it.

“Without getting ahead of ourselves we have to be positive and do that for the nation.

“There has been a lot of disappointment in recent years of this competition and hopefully we can rectify it this year.”

Stones’ impressive season for the Toffees, despite a lengthy lay-off after surgery on an ankle injury, earned him the club’s young player of the year award.

The 20-year-old has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park but he is keen to build on a promising two years at the club.

“I’ve enjoyed it as I’ve played a lot of games and the more the better, even though I know it has not been the best season,” he added.

“I can take a lot from the ups and downs and the way we turned it around.

“Being out for three months with an injury you realise how much everything means to you.

“I am gaining a lot of experience and that is massive and as a person and a player I have matured a lot, especially this season.”

Meanwhile, Everton skipper Phil Jagielka has praised boss Roberto Martinez’s approach to blooding more youngsters like Stones.

The defender, who picked up the club’s player of the year, players’ player and goal of the season awards, said:  “We have a good bunch of lads (aged) 24 and down.

“We had 14 players who could have potentially won young player of the year and that is due to the fact a lot of the boys played against Krasnodar in the Europa League.

“It is nice to see the manager does expect a large chunk of his young lads to progress to the first team and it is nice Tyias (Browning) and Brendan have come through this season.

“It is important for a club like Everton that we bring people through in a regular basis.”

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