Stones Learning From Duncan Ferguson The Brute
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John Stones is hoping the experience of having Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth coaching him can make him a better player.

The former Barnsley lad is looking forward to playing for England Under-21s at Oakwell tonight for the game against Belarus.

Then the focus is on the trip to Czech Republic next week.

Certainly Stonesy has an admirer in England U21s coach, Gareth Southgate. 

Southgate says: "He's very exciting.

"Physically he is still filling out but he has great physical attributes, a good leap, he's quick and can deal well with things one on one and is as composed as any young defender I have seen on the ball. 

"He's really outstanding in that area, but like all of our defenders, there's still a bit of work to be done in terms of that real understanding that keeping the ball out of the net is number one, so a pride in clean sheets. 

"We think, as a team, we have to keep developing that but everything is there to be successful. 

"He wants to be the best he can. If you are working, he is always attentive and looking back at his games and seeing what can be done better.

"In terms of that comfort on the ball, Rio Ferdinand had that and had the ability to turn out and start again, step into midfield and use the ball intelligently. 

"I suppose Rio went through similar processes of learning to be a better, stronger defender too. That will be the bit we want to keep seeing with John.

"He will have had a feel that there is something bigger out there so this will be a stage he will look forward to.

"He is a good character, another one who is an important part of the group. 

"Not just for him but for the rest of them, the lads who have been to the seniors and are now part of this, that was an important statement for the team really. 

"We are having a go, we aren't just paying lip-service. There are five or six of them who have been to the seniors this season. 

"For a lot of them this is the last chance to play for us and they want to finish as champions."

Stonesy said: "Unsy sits in the stand and watches every game so when I come in the day after, he has always got a word for me. 

"It may be something positionally. Unsy spots it if I'm marking the wrong side. It's great for me tactically. He'll tell me what I'm doing right, what I'm doing wrong.

"Dunc is such a presence. When he speaks you really listen. He's got some great words, especially before the game, things to get you in the mood: 'Know who you are playing for', the value of the shirt you're putting on. 

"He's been there and done it. I think he's missing playing. He sees what we've got in that dressing room and he wants us to succeed. He wants us to have pride in that Everton shirt.  

"I wouldn't want to come up against Dunc that's for sure. He was some player. Some brute. I try to stay away from him!

"I'm very proud of where I've come from and what I've done. From Barnsley, to Everton, to the England squad.

"I was really small as a kid but everyone saw me as a centre-back when I got to 16. Obviously the Championship was a tough league and I couldn't cope with it physically at centre-back so that's why I played at right-back then. It really toughened me up. I have good memories of there, it brings me back to my days playing under Keith Hill.

"I've always been taught to bring the ball out, play from the back and Roberto Martínez at Everton has taught me to do that. The gaffer here, Gareth Southgate as well is 100 per cent behind me and how I want to play and bring it out. 

"But it has to be a mixture. As a defender you want to keep the ball out of the net first and foremost. If it means doing it 'ugly', that's what it has to take: throwing your body on the line is the biggest part for a defender.

"If you take the ball first and then the man that's fine. You have to be clever about it but my dad always told me to stay on my feet. There are times when you have to go to ground, but it's about doing it wisely and cleanly.

"I couldn't be 'dirty' if I tried. It's not football either; the game should be played to score goals and that's how you win, not by hurting anyone. 

"Shirt-pulling and blocking are little things that are used to gain an advantage and I think it should be like that. I don't want the physical side to go out of the game and sometimes it is hard for the referees. I love the physical game as it is."

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