Friday 21 October 2016

Everton erect a 'not for sale' on Stones

Toffees to stick with defender despite request

Everton's John Stones
Everton's John Stones

Wantaway Everton defender John Stones was named in the starting line-up for the Capital One Cup tie at Barnsley just 24 hours after handing in a transfer request.

The 21-year-old has been the subject of three bids from Chelsea, all rejected by the Toffees who insist he is not for sale.

On Tuesday Stones took matters into his own hands by telling the club he wanted the opportunity to leave but that has not tainted manager Roberto Martinez's view of the centre-back.

Stones, as one of only two senior centre-backs, was picked alongside captain Phil Jagielka.

The club have not commented on their response to Stones' transfer request but it seems evident from Martinez's selection they are not inclined to acquiesce at this stage, having resisted in the strongest possible terms so far.


However, they still face a battle to hang on to the England international as he now has his heart set on a move to Stamford Bridge to link up with Jose Mourinho and play Champions League football.

Martinez said Stones was included in the starting line-up because he plays a vital role in his defensive pairing with Phil Jagielka.

"I think what's important is that these games we need to be well-balanced, fresh and get the right combination, and a partnership in the centre-half position is vital for us," he said.

"Phil Jagielka and John Stones are really, really important in being able to have a good performance.

"We wanted to have this sort of a squad. The numbers that we have in the group now allow us some competition for places and we're going to have nine full internationals in the starting line-up, which gives you a little bit of an idea of the strength of our squad.

"Clearly John and Phil are a big part of that line-up."

Meanwhile, Norwich have suspended striker Lewis Grabban after he left the team hotel without permission ahead of their Capital One Cup victory at Rotherham.

The 27-year-old, who has been the subject of three unsuccessful bids from former club Bournemouth, was not in the matchday 18 at New York Stadium and reports surfaced that the player had left the team hotel and made his own way home after being told he would start on the bench.

The Canaries are now said to have acted by suspending Grabban, telling him to stay away from the club, as his exit from Carrow Road appears to be drawing closer.

His walk-out was not confirmed by boss Alex Neil, but he vowed to resolve any issues while refusing to weaken the club's stance on the fee Bournemouth will have to pay for the striker.

"I don't have any issues with any player. He might have an issue but I'll quickly fix it," Neil said after the 2-1 win at Rotherham.

"There won't be any shedding of light. Any sort of thing that happens behind closed doors stays there and that has always been the case and that will remain the case.

"As far as I am concerned Lewis Grabban is a Norwich player, bottom line, that is it. Every player has got a price, but they have to a valuation we think the player is at, not what they think the player is valued at."

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