Barnsley: Stones tipped to reach the top

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Everton centre-back Antolin Alcaraz predicts a big future for fellow defender John Stones after some impressive recent performances.

Injuries mean the 19-year-old, a graduate of Barnsley’s youth system, has started the last two games alongside the Paraguay international and was man of the match in Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup win over QPR.

Stones has made just nine appearances this season but has hardly put a foot wrong when called upon due to the squad beginning to get stretched.

Manager Roberto Martinez last week said the England Under-21 international was “going to be one of the best defenders in the English game,” and Alcaraz fully agrees.

“John was great. He is a young lad who has a long future and he had a great game against Stoke and QPR,” he said. “He has a great future, he has really good quality.

“He is a young guy and he needs more games to prove himself. If he carries on playing that way he can make a good impact on the Premier League.”

Stones, a £3million signing from Barnsley almost a year ago, is enjoying his run in the side and admits he is learning plenty from the experienced trio of Alcaraz and the currently injured Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.

Stones added: “Hopefully I will become a big fans favourite here.”