It's about time Everton got some good news. The squad has been struggling to string together positive results, while seeing several of their starters go in and out of the line-up with various injuries. Roberto Martinez continues to feel the heat for his team's poor play and many are wondering if this squad can even crack the top half of the table.
Well rejoice Evertonians, because John Stones could be back in the line-up this week according to a report from the Liverpool Echo. Stones has been out since October with an ankle injury, and could return when Everton need him most. The last half of the season is going to be a doozy with the team trying to claw it's way up the table, the FA Cup beginning in two weeks and the Europa League knockout rounds starting in February.
Depth, as it has been all year really, is going to be critical down the stretch. And if Everton wish to get back into European competition next season, they are going to have to win the Europa League or the FA Cup to do it. A top-five finish is not looking promising, especially with all these extra games on the table. But John Stones can help in that department.
Sylvain Distin has looked every bit of his 37 years, Antolin Alcaraz can occasionally be solid when healthy, but the options after that are scarce. Before his injury, Stones was a bright spot in a very disappointing Everton back four that has only managed three clean sheets to date (they had 15 last year). Martinez can say all he wants that he is happy with his team and that they don't need any changes, and maybe he's right, but they do need options. John Stones gives them options.
If he is fit, Stones needs to be inserted into the line-up and he needs to stay there barring any setbacks or days for rest. Distin may have been solid last year, but he has been nothing short of disappointing this season and Stones needs every chance to gain more experience and become an even better defender.
So Evertonians, should John Stones be inserted into the line-up this week? Or should we play it safe and limit his time? Have your say in the comment section.