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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


Twelve months ago, John Stones was gearing up for the start of the Championship campaign with hometown club Barnsley.

The Tykes’ pre-season schedule included trips to non-league Alfreton Town and Stocksbridge Park Steels, as well games against Yorkshire neighbours Rotherham United and Bradford City.

Fast-forward a year and 19-year-old Stones could be set to line up against some of the biggest names in world football in the Blue shirt of Everton.

The defender, recruited in January, got a 45-minute outing in the 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and has since travelled with the first-team squad to America for their pre-season tour.

First up for the Toffees in their International Champions Cup campaign is Italian giants Juventus in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Last season’s Serie A winners have taken a contingent across the Atlantic boasting the likes of World Cup winners Andrea Pirlo and Gianlugi Buffon, as well as summer signings Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

Dependant on results, Everton could then face Real Madrid on Saturday in Los Angeles before travelling to Miami where the tour will conclude with a game against one of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Valencia or Chelsea.

“It would be a dream for someone my age and where I have come from,” Stones told evertontv when asked about the possibility of playing against clubs and players of such stature.

“There are some big teams and some big players. Hopefully I can get to play against them and show what I can do.

“I’ve never played any football before in America – I’ve only played abroad in Turkey [at this summer’s Under-20s World Cup].

“I’m looking forward to visiting some new States. I’ve only been there [America] on holiday before.

“Visiting Los Angeles and Miami, and the teams that we are going to be playing out there, should make it even more special.”

Stones partnered Sylvain Distin in central defence during the second half at Ewood Park.

It was his first taste of match action with the senior Everton players – an experience he hopes to sample regularly this season.

“It was one to remember,” he continued. “It’s been so strange playing with all the lads who have been so good with me. I’m so grateful for that. It was brilliant.

“They have all been behind me 100 per cent, as they are with everyone else in the dressing room. It gave me that extra confidence boost knowing that they are pushing me on whilst I’m on the pitch.

“Hopefully I can get some time on the pitch this season. I’d love to get a few starts and I want to be with them [the first-team] all the time really. I want to hit the ground running.”

All three matches in the USA can be watched LIVE on evertontv. Click here for more information on how not to miss a kick of the Blues’ Stateside adventure.

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