Kenny Cunningham: Why "penny needs to drop" for Everton starlet John Stones

Ex-Ireland defender reflects on Manchester City's win over Everton on Off The Ball

Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones,

Picture by: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Kenny Cunningham believes John Stones is better staying at Everton and ironing out his defensive deficiencies before making a move to one of Europe's elite clubs.

The England defender, who is just 21, made some costly errors on Sunday as Everton lost at home to Swansea, but receives plenty of praise in the English press.

A transfer target for the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United, he is still honing a game which sees him taking risks with the ball.

And ex-Ireland defender Kenny Cunningham believes he needs to stay put and gain experience where he is at Goodison Park before thinking about jumping ship.

"He's just got to be careful he doesn't make that next step too soon. I think his manager was right to hold him back. I think he wanted a move to happen last summer. I think it might have been a good thing to hold him back and I don't think it can be a bad thing even if he stays there for another year to continue his education.

John Stones and Roberto Martinez (Picture by: Peter Byrne / PA Wire/Press Association Images)

"I think it's a good football club for him at this stage of his career. If he's making those mistakes at a bigger club, the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona, there's nowhere to hide and you imagine the Bernabeu making those mistakes, you'll get hounded out of the club and his confidence will be in absolute tatters," Kenny told Off The Ball after City beat Everton to a place in the Capital One Cup final tonight, adding that "the penny drops and he needs to improve that part of his game" to match his ball-playing ability. 

"I would agree with [Roberto] Martinez saying 'don't judge this lad until he gets about 100 games under his belt'. I think he probably has learned under Martinez. I think he might learn more under a manager who had a real defensive mentality who could actually sit him down and talk him through his defending and where he needs to improve, and how his decision-making has to get a little bit better."