David Moyes: England should be thankful for having John Stones at their disposal
The man who handed John Stones his Premier League chance has told England to be thankful for their good fortune in having him at their disposal.
It was then Everton manager David Moyes who struck a £3million deal to take the teenage Barnsley defender to Goodison Park in January 2013 and saw his value rocket to £47.5million by the time he left for Manchester City three and a half years later.
The Scot, now in charge at struggling Sunderland, only worked with the young Englishman for a matter of months before he himself left Merseyside for Manchester United, but he remains convinced Stones can establish himself as an England great as their respective clubs prepare to meet in the Premier League on Sunday.
Asked if the central defender he has likened to Rio Ferdinand can fulfil the potential he saw in him despite a mixed start to his time at the Etihad Stadium, Moyes said: "Most definitely.
"When I signed him, I didn't at the time think he was going to go on to become anywhere near as good a player as he has gone on to become.
"I thought he'd become a good player because he had natural calmness on the ball, not coached, not done, he was just someone who that was his style of being on the ball.
"What he will develop as he gets older is more of the defensive instincts at times, and maybe that's where he's questioned a little bit. But as a type and as somebody who wants to do the right thing and wants to improve, all day long, he's got all that.
"He's a good boy who is trying to do all the right things to make himself a better player and England should actually be thinking they are really fortunate that they have got somebody like John Stones because for many years, they have been saying, 'It's the sort of player we would like to have in England'.
"Rio Ferdinand was great at coming out with the ball and taking the ball at the back. John Stones is someone of a similar ilk."
City's rearguard has come under intense scrutiny this season as new manager Pep Guardiola attempts to strike a balance between offensive potency and solidity at the back, and Stones has taken his fair share of criticism for his part in some less than effective defending.
Moyes was among the crowd as Guardiola's men ran out 5-3 winners against Monaco in the Champions League last week, and also saw them concede first to a much-changed Huddersfield side before securing a 5-1 victory in Wednesday's FA Cup fifth round replay.
He said: "Manchester City are a good team, as everybody is well aware. Can you cause them some problems defensively? Yes. The big thing is getting enough of the ball.
"We have to try to get enough of the ball and get ourselves in the right positions to see if we can cause them some problems."