Exclusive – Former England captain Rio Ferdinand defends John Stones and backs Everton star to silence critics

Rio Ferdinand has hailed John Stones as a ‘fantastic talent’ and has backed him to prove the doubters wrong.

The 21-year-old Everton defender has been talked up as one of Europe’s best young talents but has endured a difficult campaign at Goodison Park.

He has been criticised for a supposed tendency to ‘over-play’ at the back and looks to be struggling to live up to the considerable hype around him.

But Ferdinand says the England international has time on his side to learn from his errors and expects him to enjoy an outstanding career for club and country.

“I’ve been very vocal in my support for him,” said the former England captain and Manchester United legend. 

“He has got fantastic talent, he is naturally gifted with the ball and defensively I see signs that he has got great attributes. It is about moulding it all togther.

“His problem is he is making mistakes at the moment and it is in the public eye and people are on him. But you have got to be able to make mistakes.

“The big thing he has got to learn is that not to make the same mistakes again. If you keep making the same mistakes, then people are going to have cause to question whether you should be in the England squad, etc. But he is knowledgeable enough, he seems like a sensible lad that and in time he will get it right and choose when to play.

“What I liked about him against Manchester United at the weekend was he one of the ones driving the [Everton] team from behind and for a young centre-back to be doing that was impressive.

“Yes he has got some defensive things to learn but even in that game I saw him kicking the ball up into Row Z. Maybe the [Anthony] Martial goal he could have done a little bit better in sensing the danger earlier but these are the things hopefully a young defender learns as he gets a bit older.”

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