sport

Stones wants regular role

Everton defender John Stones is hoping to challenge Phil Jagielka for a regular place in Roberto Martinez's side.

The 19-year-old made his first Premier League start in the 1-1 draw with Stoke City, impressing alongside Antolin Alcaraz in the absence of regular defensive pairing Jagielka and Sylvain Distin due to injury.

Stones, a signing from Barnsley last summer, was full of praise for the England defender's influence on his career, but says he now wants to push Jagielka for his spot in the back four.

"It's his desire to become the best he can," Stones told the Liverpool Echo.

"There's always little things that Jags will tell me or I see him doing in training that I pick up on - if it's positionally or even a pass I see him playing.

"Things like that. His experience is rubbing off on me and I can't thank him enough for that.

"I just need to take my chance now and embrace it. I want to give the manager a problem to choose his side when Jags is back fit. That's all I can do really.

"It's nice to hear the faith the manager has in me. It puts a lot of confidence into us and playing me against Stoke was a special moment for me."

Stones also hailed his defensive partner Alcaraz, who was making only his second Everton start, saying that he and the Paraguay international have a good understanding.

"Me and Antolin have played a few behind closed doors games together so we know how each other works and he's such an experienced guy as well," he said.

"It's a big learning curve for me, but the pros I have around me make it easier to come into a game like this.

"I love getting on the ball and trying to make things happen from the back. The manager has put his stamp on how we train and how we play and it suits me as a player and all the dressing room.

"Every week we're trying to better ourselves and looking at the stats and trying to improve on them. They're a key part in everyone's game now and it's a good indicator for how we're coming on."

A stoppage-time penalty from Leighton Baines earned the Toffees a point at the Britannia Stadium, cancelling out Oussama Assaidi's strike, and Stones admits it was a challenging afternoon.

"I've always heard about the weather conditions at the Brit and what it's like and it was a big test," he said.

"The wind and the rain made it tough and added extra pressure.

"Then with the height they have I thought we coped really well. To grind out that result was good but I felt we should have had three points."