Roberto Martinez believes John Stones is “strong enough” to recover from his recent struggles with Everton.
The England centre-back has endured a tough January by his usually high standards with a number of noticeable errors and lapses.
He was withdrawn after 77 minutes of their Capital One Cup semi-final exit to Manchester City after a lapse of concentration allowed Sergio Aguero to score what turned out to be the winner, having contributed to Swansea’s opener the Sunday before with a poorly-judged backpass.
Stones’ miscalculations have directly led to eight goals for the season, with seven of those in the last three months, and he was left on the bench for the FA Cup fourth round win at Carlisle.
But Martinez has no doubts about recalling the 21-year-old, who was the subject of a failed £38million bid by Chelsea last summer, to the centre of defence for Wednesday’s visit of Newcastle as he is no longer required to cover for Seamus Coleman at right-back.
“You are talking about a player of 21 who has played over 92 percent of the minutes in the league, which is a phenomenal return.” he said. Stones has played 1,890 minutes of a possible 2,070 in the Premier League this campaign.
“When you reach the level of John Stones you are going to get that scrutiny and John is strong enough mentally to understand that is going to be his role in professional football and representing England for the next 15-20 years.
“John is such a strong-minded boy and has been through a lot over the last eight months but has done it professionally. In those moments you need to know who you can trust and you need fair criticism and fair evaluation of your performances.
“It is not an issue.”