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Everton boss David Moyes is jumping into the big-money chase for Barnsley’s brilliant young right back John Stones.
Moyes sent coach Jimmy Lumsden to check out the 18-year-old defender in midweek as he looks to land a rising star for that position - with some cash to invest.
Stones, a strapping 6ft 2in Barnsley lad, has already attracted major interest from Chelsea - with Manchester City also camped out at his games.
Barnsley have put a ‘hands off’ warning out on Stones but they are sure to be tempted by a serious offer for their home-grown hero.
Stones is heavily under contract but a proper bid would land him in the January market and some of the biggest clubs around are on his trail.
Moyes is looking out for a young right back to bring through as Tony Hibbert has held the role for a decade and Seamus Coleman is now seen as a wideman.
SEAMUS COLEMAN says the imminent return to fitness of Tony Hibbert is spurring him on even more to try and keep his place in the Everton FC line-up.
The 24-year-old produced his most impressive performance this term against Southampton last weekend, and has started the Blues’ last three games.
He has always preferred the right-back role despite shining further forward in his debut campaign, and hopes for more opportunities to stake his claim – starting at Wigan on Saturday – although he knows veteran Hibbert will soon be staking a claim for his shirt.
He said: “I am really enjoying getting a few games – all footballers want to play every week. Sometimes you have to be patient and bide your time.
“But you know there will be injuries or lack of form and when you get in you have to do well and that is what I am trying to do. Nobody is happy not to be playing. I had a good summer and got back for pre-season ready to go so hopefully I can have a good season.
“I know Tony [Hibbert] will be back from injury soon and will be itching to get back in but I can only do well, hopefully get another chance to play well again at Wigan on Saturday and give the manager a bit of a headache.”
Meanwhile Wigan boss Roberto Martinez feels he should have a right to express his opinion on decisions by referees, but won’t be blaming Kevin Friend if his side lose to Everton at the DW Stadium.
Martinez is considering whether to appeal against a £10,000 fine from the Football Association for comments criticising referees after his side’s 4-0 loss at Manchester United last month.
The Spaniard was found guilty of misconduct for suggesting Michael Oliver had been biased against his team during the Premier League match at Old Trafford.
“I think it is important after a match you can be honest and have a pure assessment of the game. That is what I did,” he said.
“I wasn’t talking about the referee, I was talking about the figure of the referee in those certain games.
“I was talking about the experience that we at Wigan Athletic have had going away from home and the calls we have had of late.”
JOHN TERRY’S decision to retire from England duty caused barely a ripple of apathy on Merseyside – but for one member of the Everton dressing room it presents a gleaming opportunity.
Phil Jagielka will line-up against Wigan Athletic for Everton tomorrow knowing that a good individual display not only furthers his ambition of scaling the heights with the Blues, but strengthens his case to become a long-term replacement for Terry.
On Wednesday the Toffees defender was named in Roy Hodgson’s squad to face San Marino alongside club-mate Leighton Baines.
The next day it was revealed that Hodgson even told commuters on the Tube that Rio Ferdinand’s days in the Three Lions squad are numbered.
Jagielka, a low-profile, no-nonsense professional without the baggage of the Chelsea captain, will not be getting carried away just yet despite featuring in recent games, but Phil Neville reckons there is a strong chance it will be his vice-captain at Goodison who gets the nod in the end.
“I certainly see no reason why it can’t be him who takes the position on a permanent basis,” says Neville ahead of Everton’s trip to the DW Stadium.
“He’s played in the last game and has never let England down when he’s been called upon. There is a growing maturity to his play. I think he feels more settled in an England shirt and at home there.
“There is him, Gary Cahill, and Joleon Lescott. The good thing for Jags is that the partnership him and Joleon had at Everton bodes well on the international stage because they know each other so well.
“One is a left footer and one is a right footer. They’re friends and have played together so often over the years that they have an almost telepathic understanding.
“If you’re looking for a partnership, and at centre back it’s more about the right partnership and not individuals, then Jagielka and Lescott is probably the best we’ve got.”
Neville believes Terry’s decision will ultimately prove to be a wise one for the Londoner and for England.
“It’s perhaps inevitable because at every get together there were always question marks lately because of what is happening off the pitch with John,” says the former England defender.
“It was probably affecting him and the squad.
“He probably thought the best thing for him and the squad is he retires and concentrates on his club football.
“Looking at the bigger picture when you get to his age and retire from international football it might just add another couple of years to your career. He has been playing Saturday-Wednesday for the last few years and it takes its toll on your body in the end.
“Sometimes in life something has to give, so maybe he has taken the decision from a career point of view as well as maybe thinking he had to do it.”
One player at the other end of the career trajectory is Everton’s Seamus Coleman.
The Irishman is still hungry to start winning caps for his country, and more importantly become Neville and Tony Hibbert’s successor as the Blues right back.
He may have been deployed more often as a right-sided midfielder by David Moyes, but Neville believes the 24-year-old has what it takes to eventually cement a defensive role.
“It happens a lot with younger players where to get into the team they have to play in perhaps not their favourite position,” says the 35-year-old.
“Usually they’ll do that to get into the starting 11 and Seamus did for us.
“I would say he was fantastic on the right wing. I played behind him for a couple of seasons and he was a dream to play with, but all along he said he wanted to be a right back.
“He was terrific against Swansea in that role and he gives us something different there. He’s got loads of energy and he’s a dribbler.
He’s been playing in that position for the last few games now and done well.”
Neville believes Coleman still has some learning left to do, although his prospects are good.
He added: “He’s probably not played many Premier League games there in the grand scheme of things, but I can see him making it his own in the next five or 10 years.”