When looking back at England’s failed quest to successfully traverse World Cup 2014’s Group D, many will point to Roy Hodgson’s decision to leave Ashley Cole at home as his biggest single mistake, but a case can also be put forward regarding the omission of Everton’s John Stones from the final 23.
Stones was expected to make sporadic appearances at right-back for the Toffees last term, but ended up starting at centre-half in 18 of their 23 games since New Year’s Day, including all of the Premier League matches during Everton’s uber-impressive seven-game winning run.
A call-up to England’s seniors became inevitable for the eight-cap Under-21 star, but two friendly run-outs weren’t enough to convince Hodgson to take Stones off his World Cup standby list and into the first-team.
Following the Three Lions’ limp exit from Brazil, where the 19-year-old’s Toffees teammate and fellow defender Phil Jagielka struggled to live with the likes of Luis Suarez, Stones is a near certainty to make the squad for his country’s first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland.
However, with reports emanating out of Merseyside that Everton have rejected an initial bid from Tottenham for the former Barnsley youth, it would take a confident sage to predict where Stones will be plying his trade by the time the Rossocrociati clash comes around.
Whether Spurs, who are also tracking highly-regarded Swansea left-back Ben Davies, will test Toffees boss Roberto Martinez’s resolve further with more bids is as yet unclear, but the north Londoners should expect to shell-out top dollar for a player that the Tykes sold for £3m in January 2013.
Stones’ fellow new England caps Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana left Southampton for Manchester United and Liverpool for combined fees of over £50m in recent days, which served to once again underline the transfer premiums attached to home-grown players in the Premier League.
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