Stones: Key role for Everton

Walking into the Childrens Ward of a Merseyside Hospital to drop off hundreds of Easter Eggs is one way to make a good impression but after Everton's vital win over Arsenal, John Stones was always going to be treated like a VIP no matter what he'd brought, writes Sky Sports News' James Cooper

Last Updated: 09/04/14 at 11:31 Post Comment

John Stones: Handing out Easter eggs to young patients at Whiston Hospital in St

John Stones: Handing out Easter eggs to young patients at Whiston Hospital in St

The 19-year-old has become a key part of a squad that, after the 3-0 win on Sunday, is now just a point behind the fourth-placed Gunners with a game in hand.

"We're really happy with the result," said Stones. "And a clean sheet is vital for us to go and get a result off that, everyone's buzzing in the changing room and I think we just need to kick on now".

The teenager, who was signed by David Moyes in January 2013 from Barnsley for £3m, has won rave reviews since stepping into the back four in place of the injured Phil Jagielka and can't believe how easy life's been made for him at Everton.

"The team's been absolutely brilliant to me. As soon as I came everyone made me feel so welcome, especially the defenders, the likes of Seamus, Jags, Sylvain, Bainsey and Tim. I feel so at home all thanks to them".

Stones, who has already won eight England U21 caps, was handing out some of the 1878 Easter Eggs donated by supporters and local businesses to young patients at Whiston Hospital in St Helens, with other fan-nominated groups and Community Projects also set to benefit over the next couple of weeks.

The centre-back is one of a number of youngsters blossoming under the guidance of Roberto Martinez, alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.

"He puts a lot of trust in the likes of the younger players, me and Ross and Rom, and that's just a massive confidence boost for us, along with the backing of the backroom staff," he said. "Its a platform for us to push on on the pitch and show what we can do".

He's already made 21 first team appearances and admits it took him time to adjust to training with established Premier League and International players but a new challenge could be presented to John Stones, even before he hits his 20th birthday.

After six wins on the bounce, Everton now have six games left to seal Champions League football for the first time in nine years, something Stones says the whole dressing room is starting to talk about.

"There's a little hint of it here and there because you've got to dream and we've got to set high standards for ourselves, that's what we do and, you know, we keep on our feet on the ground but we've got goals so we'd love Champions League.

"It would mean the world to the fans and us as players so we're pushing as hard as we can to make it and the fans are fully behind us so I'm sure we can do something special this season."

His manager's called him "the complete modern centre-half" and there's even been talk of Stones playing himself into Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans but, for now, the boy from Barnsley is delighted to be part of Everton's dreams to bring Champions League football back to Goodison Park.

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C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

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Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

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e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

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urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

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