Antolin Alcaraz has tipped John Stones to enjoy a lengthy career at highest level - if the teenager continues to progress at his current rate.
Stones joined Everton from Barnsley on the final day of last January’s transfer window but was forced to wait six months before breaking into the first-team fold at Goodison Park.
Since Roberto Martinez’s appointment as manager in the summer, the defender has flourished.
The Spaniard selected Stones for the pre-season tour to America, where he starred against Juventus and eclipsed Andrea Pirlo by scoring an audacious chipped penalty in a shoot-out victory, after the Italian legend had missed his effort from the spot.
Stones then made his competitive debut for Everton in the Capital One Cup tie against Stevenage in August, before following that up with a Premier League bow in the 1-0 victory over Chelsea a few weeks later.
He earned a first top-flight start in the New Year’s Day draw at Stoke and his most recent landmark was to scoop the man of the match accolade in Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup rout of Queens Park Rangers.
Alcaraz has played alongside Stones in those last two outings having himself waited for a first-team breakthrough and the Paraguay defender, who has competed in World Cup and Copa America tournaments, says his Blues teammate has the potential to reach the very top.
The 31-year-old told evertontv: “He is a young lad and he has a big future. He is a great player and I think he is going to improve a lot. He had a great game against Stoke and also now .
“He has a lot of quality but he is a young guy and he needs more games to improve and learn. But if he continues in this way then he has a big future and he will make a big impact in the Premier League.”
Alcaraz has featured in Everton’s last three matches, filling the void left by captain Phil Jagielka, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury.
He enjoyed a comfortable afternoon against Harry Redknapp’s side as the Toffees comfortably progressed to set up an FA Cup fourth round tie against League One Stevenage at Broadhall Way.
It means Alcaraz’s dream of a repeat success in the competition is still on track after winning it last season with former club Wigan Athletic.
He said: “We knew how important it was to win and we are through to the next round. We will do everything we can to get to the final at Wembley.
“It was a good memory last year and I want to repeat that again.”
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