Belfast Telegraph

Everton v Stoke City: John Stones insists Tom Cleverley has the quality to earn an England recall

By Staff Reporter

England defender John Stones has backed Everton team-mate Tom Cleverley to return to the international fold.

The 26-year-old midfielder won the last of his 13 senior England caps in a friendly against Germany in November 2013 during his Manchester United days having at one point found himself the subject of a fans' petition demanding that he was never picked again.

However, having rebuilt his career at Goodison Park, Stones believes Cleverley has earned the right to be considered once again as national boss Roy Hodgson assesses his options for next summer's Euro 2016 finals.

He said: "I know as players you're biased to your own team-mates, but Tom should be in the England squad.

"He's playing terrifically well. Sometimes players don't get too many chances to get back into the squad, but I'm sure he would be delighted to."

Stones' comments came after Cleverley snatched a 1-0 Premier League victory for his team with the final touch of the game at Newcastle on Boxing Day.

Stones said: "It took a lifetime to go in. He feels like an Everton player. He loves everything about the club and he's just fitted in so well. He's a great lad and the goal should top that off for Christmas."

Victory on Tyneside eased Roberto Martinez's men into ninth place, just three points behind Manchester United in sixth, ahead of today's home clash with Stoke, who got the better of Louis van Gaal's side on Saturday.

Martinez is relishing a showdown between two sides he believes will go all-out for victory.

He said: "We are going to see two teams that are both built to score goals and are both having a very good moment of belief and confidence.

"They (Stoke) have got a lot of creativity in the side, a lot of arrogance in the right way, and I think it's going to be a really open game with two teams looking to get the three points rather than just trying to get through another game."

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