Roberto Martinez says teenager John Stones is already displaying some of the best ball-playing ability he has seen in a central defender.
The 19-year-old only made the switch to the middle of defence earlier this season to deputise for injured skipper Phil Jagielka, having previously operated mainly as a right-back.
But another spell on the sidelines for Jagielka has seen Stones play each of Everton's last eight games in the position - his latest impressive showing helping the Blues record a 1-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday.
And speaking on Sky Sports' Goals On Sunday, Martinez said: “Remember, John is only 19 and Saturday was probably only his ninth game as a centre-half.
"At Barnsley he always played at right-back, but he's got that knack of knowing where to be.
"He's got a really good defensive brain and fantastic defensive intensity - but then he's got the best distribution I've seen in a centre-half."
The game at the Stadium of Light also saw Gareth Barry escape the threat of a two-game suspension after the amnesty deadline passed without him collecting a 10th yellow card of the season.
The midfielder had been carrying nine cautions since the 3-0 win at Newcastle United and survived three matches without triggering the automatic ban.
"It's quite a remarkable achievement what Gareth has done with the amount of games he has played and the threat of the booking," added Martinez.
"I thought on Saturday him and James McCarthy were both magnificent. For Gareth to have that measured approach of being able to stop the play and be perfect with his decisions to avoid a booking just shows his know-how, his experience and the type of footballer we have at the Club."
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