Southgate: John's A Perfect Blueprint
England Under-21s boss expecting big future for Everton starlet.
John Stones possesses all the attributes to be a defensive icon of the future.
That's the opinion of England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate, who also says the 19-year-old fully justified his selection as a standby for next month's World Cup in Brazil.
Stones has been a regular for Southgate at Under-21s level this season but joined up with the Three Lions senior squad on Monday having been named as one of seven reserve players for the tournament.
England chief Roy Hodgson has already stated that the former Barnsley star will be drafted into his final 23 should Manchester United's Phil Jones fail to shake off a troublesome shoulder injury.
And Southgate, who himself amassed 57 caps as an England centre-half, told evertontv: "I think he [Stones] is a fantastic blueprint for what you'd like the defender of the future to be.
"He has the physical height, the ability in the air and the understanding to read the game.
"His defensive side will improve with time because, as a defender, you have to learn through experiences. But his composure and his ability to use the ball is exactly what we need defenders of the future to be like.
"We [England] want to play from the back. Teams like Everton do so and, similarly with England, we want to do that.
"So you want that type of player that can handle the ball and who is brave enough to play under pressure."
Stones will take part in a training camp in Portugal this week before Hodgson's squad return to England for a friendly against Peru at Wembley on 30 May.
The Three Lions will then fly out to Miami for further warm-up matches against Ecuador and Honduras before the tournament kicks off on 12 June.
And Southgate added: "John deserves to be involved in the group that are going to Portugal and Miami.
"The last period of the season where he was in the first team at Everton, he was so accomplished.
"He's so comfortable with the ball and so composed in possession of the ball, but he's good with his one-on-one defending, he's been a pleasure to work with and I'm delighted for him."
Watch the video above now to see what Southgate had to say about how Stones can benefit from playing alongside Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin and the expectations on Stones' Everton teammate Ross Barkley^.
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