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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Roberto Martinez has spoken of his eventual joy at being able to work with John Stones.

The 19-year-old joined Everton from Barnsley in the January window, having appeared to be on course for a move to the Spaniard’s former side Wigan Athletic.

Currently away on duty with England Under-21s, Stones has exhibited his potential in composed and mature performances - no less so than against Juventus in pre-season and during his competitive Blues bow versus Stevenage last month.

And having missed out on his man earlier this year, Martinez has revealed his delight at the challenge of nurturing the Young Lion prospect.

He said: “In my eyes, he’s the most promising young English centre half that we have in the country.

"I always said that he would play for England at senior level. He will have a terrific career; it's just a matter of shaping up, taking things in, being able to make mistakes and correct them.

“I expect big things from him but we need to allow him to develop and enjoy his football.

"I followed John really closely when he was at Barnsley and I always thought he had incredible potential for someone that can play in different positions and adapt to systems and at such a young age, he has such a mature personality.

"He would have been an asset for any football club - Everton at that time were very fortunate to get John because I see him as an outstanding prospect for the future.

“It was frustrating to miss out on him in January, because I always thought he was ready to play in the top-flight. As a player you need to make a decision and we had to accept that [at Wigan].

“So I was delighted when I got here to have him in the squad finally.”

Martinez has already showcased his backing for youth, speaking with intent about the Club's Academy and handing Ross Barkley the chances that have reaped a full England call-up.

But, while recognising the risk of utilising inexperienced players in the Premier League, the Blues boss says the rewards of the learning curve can be far greater.

“In any performance from a youngster I never focus on the mistakes," he explained.

"I value their reaction to the mistakes and their next pass, or next decision.

“John is very strong-minded in that respect and I’ve been very impressed.

“He needs games and minutes on the pitch to make sure he fulfils his potential but I would have no problems allowing him to play in the first-team in a league game.

“I think he is ready. He has been working really well in pre-season. He’s one of that young group which is pushing that gets me really excited.

“We need to allow them to make mistakes and encourage them.

“I thought he was influential in us getting through to the next round of the Capital One Cup.

"His attitude, mentality and personality will make him a very important player for Everton in the future."

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