John Stones admitted it was a Premier League baptism of fire being pitted against the giant Peter Crouch in Everton’s draw at Stoke City.
Eleven months after joining from Barnsley, the 19-year-old defender was handed his first top-flight start by manager Roberto Martinez who was without the injured Sylvain Distin for the trip to the Britannia Stadium.
Stones handled the occasion – and the 6ft 7in striker – excellently as the Blues kicked-off 2014 with a hard-earned point.
Speaking to evertontv in the aftermath, Stones said: “It has been a long time coming. It was such a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Peter Crouch is a lot taller than I thought. I’m not too short but he made me look small. He’s a great striker and they have a good team but I thought we dealt well with them.
“We have a lot of experienced pros and I can’t thank them enough for helping me through it. I learnt a lot off the defenders and central players. They gave me a lot of hints and it was good for me.”
Martinez was also unable to call upon hamstrung skipper Phil Jagielka, meaning Stones formed a new centre-half pairing alongside Antolin Alcaraz.
Despite the lack of minutes together in competitive action, Stones revealed that the duo had already forged an on-the-pitch understanding through their work together at Finch Farm.
“We’ve worked on it in training quite a lot so it’s just the same,” he said. “We know how each other work and I thought we coped well today.”
Stones and Alcaraz could play together again when Queens Park Rangers visit Goodison Park in the FA Cup on Saturday.
The England Under-21s man is hopeful of another opportunity against the Championship side.
He continued: “I just need to take my chance now and embrace it. I want to give the manager a problem to choose his side when Jags is back fit. That’s all I can do really.
“It’s nice to hear the faith the manager puts in me. It puts a lot of confidence into us and playing against Stoke was a special moment.”
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