John Stones impresses for Everton against lifeless QPR

For someone who turned down the chance to work with Roberto Martínez less than 12 months ago John Stones is making quite an impression under the Everton manager.

It says much for the increasing squad depth at Goodison Park that the absence of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin with hamstring injuries has not halted the progress of Martínez's side.

Wednesday's trip to Stoke was the first time Everton have been without both Jagielka and Distin for almost two years and Stones, 19, who rejected a move to Martínez's Wigan to join Everton from Barnsley last January, made his first Premier League start alongside the Paraguayan Antolín Alcaraz at centre-back.

His only real faux pas on a filthy day at the Britannia Stadium was his admission that Peter Crouch was taller than he had expected and, after showing his natural qualities as a defender against Stoke, his performance against QPR will further enhance his reputation.

Everton, who were handed a trip to League One Stevenage in the fourth round, were rarely stretched defensively by a lifeless Rangers and, although Stones caught the eye with a fine recovery challenge on Armand Traoré, his distribution and willingness to carry the ball out from the back is what will have pleased Martínez most.

While Nikica Jelavic chipped on to the bar with a penalty for his hat-trick against Rangers, it was a Panenka penalty in a pre-season friendly against Juventus that was a clear indication of the growing confidence of Stones, who has forced his way into the England Under-21 side in recent months.

"Defensively he has got everything. He is a confident boy and always has two or three options and leaves it until the end to make the right choice," Martínez said. "He knows he is stronger, quicker and more athletic than the striker he is marking and that gives real confidence. I think he will develop and become a special centre-half for England.

"I thought I had got John at Wigan. I would have bought him again here. I was really disappointed then because I knew what a player he was."

Everton moved into the fourth round with the most routine of wins, Ross Barkley curling in just after the half-hour and Jelavic, who could be on his way to QPR this week, finding the corner from a distance just before the interval.

Jelavic stabbed in a third from Bryan Oviedo's cross before Seamus Coleman drove in Everton's fourth.

"We struggled to live with them at times. There's a clear gulf in class between the two divisions and that showed, make no mistake about that," said QPR's manager, Harry Redknapp

A trip to Broadhall Way is Everton's next challenge, with Stevenage buoyed by their 3-2 win at Doncaster that left the home manager, Paul Dickov, "raging".

Man of the match Nikica Jelavic (Everton) © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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