Everton boss Roberto Martinez has urged both the media and club’s fans to be patient with defender John Stones and judge him when he has played over 150 senior games.
The England international has received plenty of criticism this year after some lacklustre performances for the Toffees, in a season of struggle.
The 21-year-old joined the club from Barnsley three years ago for £3million and his form caught the eye of England boss Roy Hodgson.
Stones was expected to kick on for both club and country this term but Everton’s season has not panned out as they would have liked and they are now languishing in mid-table.
His potential was on show last weekend against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final and Martinez believes he will start to come good once he has more experience. Martinez told the Daily Mail: “I had tried to sign him for Wigan when he was at Barnsley.
“We always saw him as a centre half and you see where he is now, having played almost 80 games in the Premier League [Stones has played 73]. He is only 21. The experience he has had this season is going to make him the player he can be.
“He has had too much scrutiny. I don’t think someone at 21 should be scrutinised in every action that he does, for good and bad. “They deserve a bit of space and they should be left alone a little bit until they make 150, 200 games.
Then you can have a stronger judgement.”