Stones told he must ‘cut out mistakes’
Roy Hodgson has warned John Stones that he needs to “cut out” the mistakes that have cost him his starting place at Everton in recent weeks and put in doubt his prospects of being in the England team for Euro 2016.
Stones will start alongside club team-mate Phil Jagielka against Holland, winning his eighth cap, tomorrow at Wembley Stadium as the England manager plans to field a vastly different line-up to the one that achieved such an impressive 32 friendly victory away to Germany on Saturday.
At the start of this season Stones and Chris Smalling were being touted as England’s most likely first-choice central defence pairing at the finals in France but that has been questioned given the form of the 21-year-old and, also, the way he has been handled by Everton manager Roberto Martínez.
Indeed Stones has not played 90 minutes for Everton since Jan 24 and has either been a substitute, or been substituted, in a struggling side with the fit-again Jagielka partnering Ramiro Funes Mori in central defence.
“We believe in John Stones. He will get a chance on Tuesday,” Hodgson said. “We think he is the type of centre-half who can be good for England going forward but to use him he has to play well enough to break into his club side as his first task. Then he has to be so good with us that we consider moving the two we had [against Germany – Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill] and Phil Jagielka. He is a very talented player. We need to keep encouraging him.”
Whatever his role Stones will definitely be in England’s 23-man squad for France. Hodgson said: “He is comfortable, composed and look how good he is bringing the ball out and then he makes a couple of mistakes and we want to put it back on his head.
“He needs to understand that as a centre-half at a top club you can’t make lot of mistakes. But you don’t have to change your game and start booting the ball up the field every time. It just means you have to improve all the time and cut out some of the mistakes.”
Hodgson will make the wholesale changes he promised for the game against Holland with the big question mark being who will play at left-back.
After the withdrawal of Ryan Bertrand, Hodgson has only Danny Rose in his squad and although the Tottenham Hotspur defender, who made his debut against Germany, may start against the Dutch, he is unlikely to play more than 45 minutes. If he does that may not go down too well with Spurs. Hodgson is, therefore, considering calling up another left-back.