'John Stones and Phil Jagielka pairing will be key'

Tuesday 10 Feb 2015
John Stones and Phil Jagielka have both appeared for England this season

Phil Jagielka and John Stones have been key to Everton’s recent run of defensive form, according to Roberto Martinez.

The Toffees’ boss says the England duo have played a crucial role as the club recorded clean sheets in their last three outings – with Jagielka and Stones featuring in each game.

“You get certain partnerships that give you real solidity and the partnership between Phil and John has been very important,” he said.

“I think they bring something that probably suits our way of playing.

John Stones in action against Stoke City

“It’s been great to see John Stones growing over the last 16-18 months.”

Jagielka, who joined Everton from Sheffield United in July 2007, is nearing 250 first-team appearances for the club. 

Stones, meanwhile, is in the infancy of his career at Goodison Park.

The 20-year-old has made 31 senior appearances since joining from Barnsley where he was a trainee.

And Martinez believes the combination of youth and experience is proving a potent blend.

He added: “It’s not just in the technical aspect of the game that they complement each other but emotionally too.

“Obviously both play for England. 

Everton's 0-0 draw against Liverpool was their third consecutive clean sheet

“Stones is a new centre-half who has just played for England.

“Phil Jagielka is a true captain who leads John a lot, and they have a strong understanding of what they do on the pitch which is important.

“It is a very important partnership for us.”

Next up for the duo is a trip to Stamford Bridge to take on league leaders Chelsea on Wednesday.

They will both be hopeful of another international call-up when the England squad next convene for their double-header at the end of March.

The Three Lions take on Lithuania at Wembley on 27 March in a Euro 2016 qualifier, before travelling to Turin to face Italy in a friendly four days later.

Tickets for England v Lithuania are on sale now. Click here to get yours. 

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer