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Lineker tips Stones for England

Former England and Everton striker a fan of the young Toffees defender.

Clive Brunskill

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker is the latest pundit to join the John Stones bandwagon as the calls for him to go to the World Cup gather pace.

It is almost hard to believe that most Evertonians had not even heard of Stones when he joined from Barnsley for £3million on deadline day in January 2013. In fact at the time we were all a little underwhelmed given earlier in the day there was talk of Alvaro Negrado sweeping in through the doors of Finch Farm.

However, he is one of a clutch of young players to have blossomed under Roberto Martinez and has now established himself in the Goodison first-team, particularly in the second half of the season

The centre of defence is a weak spot in the England side since the retirements of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry and injuries have made the situation worse in the lead up to Brazil 2014.

Man Utd’s Phil Jones is a doubt for the tournament after sustaining a shoulder injury on Tuesday while Phil Jagielka – a first choice pick alongside Gary Cahill – has only just returned from a hamstring injury.

Stones’ ability to play right back could also see him get the nod given Kyle Walker is a severe doubt with a hip injury.

First choice right-back Glenn Johnson is fit, but while looking adept at going forward is an alarmingly shaky defender for a supposed international footballer.

England boss Roy Hodgson names a provisional 30-man squad on Monday and the rumours suggest Stones may well be included, giving him the chance to impress the Three Lions boss and make the cut for the tournament itself.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Lineker said:

"The one I might take a chance on because we are short in central defence is Stones, really like him and he has got a lot about him."

"Sometimes central defenders need a little bit more experience than players in other positions because of the extra discipline and the nature of that particular role.

"But is he worth a gamble? Well, if Roy loses another one - if Jones doesn't make it for example - then what else have we got?"

I think it would be fantastic if Stones made it to Brazil, particularly as he would likely have three other Everton teammates alongside him, something not seen since Mexico 1986.

However, the selfish Evertonian in me would rather him rest and not be exposed to the England spotlight too early, given the renowned lack of patience from the supporters and media if results and performances aren’t instantaneous.

What do you think? Should Stones go to the World Cup?

It would certainly be interesting to see if he stepped up to take a penalty……