John Stones backs Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley for England recall
Published 27/12/2015 | 14:46
England defender John Stones has backed Everton team-mate Tom Cleverley to return to the international fold.
The 26-year-old midfielder won the last of his 13 senior England caps in a friendly against Germany in November 2013 during his Manchester United days having at one point found himself the subject of a fans' petition demanding that he was never picked again.
However, having rebuilt his career at Goodison Park, Stones believes Cleverley has earned the right to be considered once again as national boss Roy Hodgson assesses his options for next summer's Euro 2016 finals.
He told evertontv: "I know as players you're biased to your own team-mates, but I think it's only right that I speak on behalf of a lot of the lads in our dressing room when I say Tom should be in the England squad - on current form at least.
"He's playing terrifically well. Sometimes players don't get too many chances to get back into the squad, but I'm sure he would be delighted to."
Stones' comments came after Cleverley snatched a 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory for his team with the final touch of the game at Newcastle on Boxing Day.
The midfielder's looping 93rd-minute header handed the Toffees a deserved victory, but one which did not look to be coming their way as the Magpies defended stubbornly to take themselves within seconds of a draw, and in the process cemented his status within the squad following his summer switch to Merseyside.
Stones said: "It took a lifetime to go in but thankfully it got there in the end!
"He feels like an Everton player. He loves everything about the club - the training, the fans - and he's just fitted in so well. He's a great lad and the goal should top that off for Christmas."
Victory on Tyneside eased Roberto Martinez's men into ninth place in the table, just three points behind Manchester United in sixth, ahead of Monday's home clash with Stoke, who got the better of Louis van Gaal's side on Saturday.
Martinez is relishing a showdown between two sides he believes will go all-out for victory rather than trying simply to survive a second game in three days.
He said: "We are going to see two teams that are both built to score goals and are both having a very good moment of belief and confidence.
"They [Stoke] have got a lot of creativity in the side, a lot of arrogance in the right way, and I think it's going to be a really open game with two teams looking to get the three points rather than just trying to get through a game."
Martinez rested Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone at St James' Park with the Spaniard used only as a second-half substitute and the Ivorian not at all.
He will use the depth of his squad once more against the Potters with striker Steven Naismith back in contention after an ankle problem and Phil Jagielka, Bryan Oviedo, James McCarthy and Steven Pienaar all close to returns.