Don't be too harsh on Stones, urges Martinez


Everton manager Roberto Martinez has hit out at what he perceives to be excessive criticism of John Stones following his costly error in England's 2-1 defeat to Netherlands this week.

Stones was caught in possession to kick off a phase of play that led to Netherlands winning a penalty from which Vincent Janssen drew level.

The mishap was in line with Stones' recent dip in form at club level, but Martinez has urged the defender's critics to take a step back and remember that Stones is still developing as a player.

"I think John has attracted a lot of interest in terms of his potential, and that's what we need to understand," he said.

"He's still 21. We accelerated his role in the team and he's always found a way to perform and, over the last three seasons, his progression has been remarkable.

"But we should understand that he is still 21. He's still learning the game, and rightly so.

"In a game like the one against the Netherlands, I think what you're looking for from a young player is how much you get affected by that mistake. From that point on he showed an incredible character.

"Of course he has to learn in those situations. He is the first one that is using these games to become as good as he can be.

"But he's still in that development phase. At the age of 21, he's well ahead of where he should be and I think we should all be a bit more aware that he's such a young player and he shouldn't be under that scrutiny at that stage of his career.

"He's played the biggest number of games already in a season, we need to make sure we control that amount of playing time but, for me, when you see a player make a mistake it's what he does next [that matters].

"Clearly John had an incredible reaction in a difficult environment, playing at Wembley for your national team... I thought the way he reacted was another sign of the strong character that he has.

"If you think at 21 he's going to be the finished article, I think we're all in the wrong game."

Stones, who has played 31 matches in all competitions for Everton this season, is expected to be fit for Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United after recovering from a knock.