After losing Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin through hamstring injuries, we have been without our first choice central defensive pairing for a couple of weeks and the defensive duties were left to deputies Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones at Stoke City.

Roberto Martinez has already said that he was delighted with the performances of the two deputies and in 19-year-old debutant Stones, the Boss believes he has a youngster who can become “one of the best defenders in the English game.”

Distin joined Jagielka on the injured list after injuring his hamstring against Southampton and with Johnny Heitinga deciding on his options for his future which seems as if it’s going to be away from Everton, it left a pairing who had never played together before.

Martinez said: “I couldn’t be happier with the partnership. I thought Antolin Alcaraz; after five months out injured, has come back and faced two of the hardest tests you’re going to get in the league, but I thought Antolin was magnificent. Then you’ve got young John Stones who I think is going to be one of the best defenders in the English game. I think we’re going to see something special in John Stones’ career.”

The two are likely to continue in the starting eleven in Saturday’s FA Cup visit of QPR to Goodison but the Blues will go into the tie in good heart after salvaging a point at Stoke with Leighton Baines’ converting a penalty kick late on.

Martinez was delighted that it was Osman who won the saving penalty after his experience against Sunderland on Boxing Day. “We need to remember that football is a game of risks and you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you react to them and Leon Osman is one of the most reliable footballers you can have in that dressing room,” said the Blues boss. “He represents Everton and you know that when you are facing adversity you can rely on Leon.

The Blues boss will be hoping to continue his recent success in the FA Cup with Everton and what better way to start than with a home tie.

About The Author

Becki Cookson

LJMU Journalism graduate & aspiring sports journalist Writer for GrandOldTeam