Southgate backs John Stones for future senior success

Monday 13 Jul 2015
Under-21s pair John Stones and Harry Kane listen to Gareth Southgate in training
Gareth Southgate believes John Stones has got everything it takes to go on and become an England regular in the future.

The Everton defender was part of Southgate’s Under-21s squad for the UEFA European Championship Finals in Czech Republic earlier this summer.

He linked up with the Young Lions having already picked up four caps for Roy Hodgson’s senior team over the last year. He had previously played in qualifiers for Southgate’s team.

England Under-21s defender John Stones heads clear against Italy.

Stones only featured in one game at the Euros, in the final group match with Italy

And despite only playing in one game at the Euros after a training-ground concussion ruled him out for the first two matches, Southgate saw enough to suggest he is going to be gracing the international stage for years to come if he can maintain his development.

"He’s the type of player that, were he Portuguese and German, we’d be saying, why can’t be produce players like that?" said Southgate.

"The Euro Finals were a huge part of their education and if you look at John in possession, he was as good as any player in the tournament.

"But there are other parts [of his game] that need to develop and that’s going to take time as he’s still learning it.

"He’s in a position where mistakes can lead to goals, so a few might go in along the way, but he’ll keep learning from that and improve."

Despite England’s unfortunate exit from the Euros at the group stage after their defeat against Italy, Southgate is optimistic that the majority of that group can progress in international football.

But given the competition for places and development of players from other age groups, that will not be the case for everyone, so the head coach is urging those players who are now too old for the U21s to build on their international experiences and come back for more.

John Stones and Matt Targett head to training in Olomouc.

Stones has been capped by England at U19, U20, U21 and senior level

"In U21 football, as in any group, you’re looking at five or six players who might go up to the senior group," he explained. 

"And only two or three will have a long career there so for many, this is possibly the end of England for them and that’s the nature of football.

"But we have to be careful not to dismiss them all, as it is a different scenario to senior football.

"The group know where they’re at, they know they’ve got to go away and keep working at their game to improve.

"None of the group think they’re too good to learn. They’re an honest group who know there is work to be done, as we all do.

"I think they’ve got a chance and the rate at which they develop now is going to depend on their experiences."

The U21s will start their new Euro 2017 Qualifying campaign in September when they face a trip to Norway on Monday 7 September.

By Nicholas Veevers