Owen defends Stones from criticism

Former England striker Michael Owen has come to the defence of John Stones following the defender’s below-par season with Everton.

Despite being regarded as one of England’s most promising defenders in recent years, Stones has come in for criticism over his lack of presence at the back for the Toffees last term.

Owen believes the 22-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, adding that he is good enough to play for Barcelona.

“He’s probably the only player in the England squad who could walk into Barcelona’s team at the moment. He’s absolutely brilliant. Get behind him, believe in him,” Owen told BBC Sport.

“Some of the negativity surrounding Stones was because he is so much better than most other players.

“People just don’t realise that a lot of it is under control. He will make the odd mistake but so will everyone – everyone just goes on and on and on about mistakes.

“Eventually someone might start getting into his head and he might not be the player he should because of this negativity that surrounds our country so often.”