Stones must accept England scrutiny

2016-03-31 08:53
John Stones (TEAMtalk)

London - Everton centre-back John Stones will need to develop thick skin if he is to become a mainstay of England's defence, national manager Roy Hodgson has warned.

Stones was at fault for the Netherlands' first goal in England's 2-1 friendly defeat at Wembley on Tuesday, with his slip culminating in a penalty conceded by Danny Rose from which the visitors equalised.

The highly rated 21-year-old, capped eight times, is competing with Gary Cahill for the right to partner Chris Smalling in central defence and Hodgson said that he would have to get accustomed to the scrutiny that comes with playing for his country.

"That's what playing for England is. Unfortunately John will have to come to terms with that," Hodgson said.

"It's hard enough getting away with that in the Premier League. When you play for England and it happens at Wembley.

"For me a slip's a slip. I don't know that I as a football coach and an ex-footballer will put quite so much importance on the fact that he slipped in that moment.

"But I can't change your (the media's) way of considering it or the way people outside of here consider it.

"Sometimes people have had careers ruined by being unlucky, but I would definitely put that slip down to misfortune. I don't think if I was to analyse his 90-minute performance, I would criticise him too heavily."

Following England's 3-2 win over world champions Germany in Berlin last Saturday, Hodgson has seen his side concede four goals in their last two matches.


Stones, Smalling and Cahill are all right-sided centre-backs, but while Hodgson lamented the dearth of left-sided central defenders in the Premier League, he is not concerned about the state of his defence.

"Getting the right back four is always important, but before these two games we played 10 qualifying matches and let in three goals," he said.

"The further point is that our back four normally gets quite a lot of protection because the players in front of them work so hard.

"We haven't got a left-sided (centre-back), that's quite right, but there's not much I can do about that unless suddenly in the next five weeks some brilliant English left-sided centre-back appears on the scene."

One prominent left-sided English centre-back playing in the Premier League is Chelsea's John Terry, but the former England captain retired from international football in 2012.

The games against Germany and the Netherlands saw several players enhance their England credentials, including double goal-scorer Jamie Vardy and the Tottenham Hotspur trio of Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

But with just a month and a half to go until Hodgson names his Euro 2016 squad, he warned Theo Walcott that it will be difficult for him to stake a selection claim unless he is playing regularly for Arsenal.

"I think a lot of players have got work to do," Hodgson said. "It's going to be harder for players who don't get a chance to show what they can do because they don't make their club team.

"Theo, like quite a lot of other players, will have to try hard to get back in the Arsenal team otherwise maybe I'm not going to be seeing enough of him. But we know Theo Walcott, we know what Theo can do."

Read more on:    england  |  john stones  |  soccer

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