Former Everton defender Alan Stubbs has sung the praises of Jon Stones in an interview with talkSPORT, likening the youngster's ease in possession to Rio Ferdinand's calming presence.
Stones' introduction to the first team was necessitated by an injury to mainstay Phil Jagielka. Since he's been called upon, the 19-year-old has impressed beyond his years, turning in authoritative performances in central defence.
While the ex-Barnsley man's stylish brand of football has drawn numerous plaudits, he's not the finished product and is prone to lapses in concentration, as evidenced by the four defensive errors he's made – all of which had led to an attempt on goal – in 21 appearances for the Toffees.
The 2014 World Cup will probably come six months too soon for Stones, even with the question mark over Phil Jones' availability after he picked up a shoulder injury during Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Hull last weekend.
Expediting a future prospect's entry into the national team can often be detrimental to their progress – something Stubbs is acutely aware of.
“He’s come on leaps and bounds,” he told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show. “When you’ve got a young player, you have to be really careful not to throw them into the lion’s den too soon.
“He’s had a fantastic season with Everton. He’s stepped in for Phil Jagielka and done really well.
“He’s probably the most comfortable centre-back, from a footballing point of view, I’ve seen for a long while.
“He’s obviously got to work on the defensive side of the game but he’s a throwback to Rio Ferdinand. He’s effortless, like Alan Hansen.
“He’s going to make the odd mistake every now and then but, at 19 years of age, to be doing what he’s doing as a defender where there’s so much responsibility on you, his future is very bright.”