Hemsworth player aims to be Euro hit with England

John Stones.
John Stones.

Hemsworth-born Premier League star John Stones is set to test himself against the best young players in Europe this month after being selected for the England squad for the European Under 21 Championships.

Defender Stones is part of a 27-man initial squad selected for the tournament taking place in the Czech Republic and is expected to make the final cut as he is seen as a vital player for the England team with his experience at senior level and another good season behind him for Everton, despite missing part of it through injury.

If selected Stones will jet out to England squad’s training base in Olomouc on Sunday, June 14.

England Under-21s’ first game in the tournament is against Portugal on Thursday, June 18, with further group fixtures against Sweden (June 21) and Italy (June 24) to follow.

They also have a warm-up game against Belarus at Barnsley’s Oakwell ground on Thursday June 11 (kick-off 7.45pm).

Stones earned his first full England cap last year and was on standby for the World Cup, but is delighted to be getting a chance of tournament football with the young Lions.

He said: “We have such a strong team that will be going out there and I am looking forward to some tournament football.

“I won’t have much of a summer but I always look to try and play every game I can. The more football the better for me and my learning experience.”

Stones’s under 21s call-up has come at the end of a season in which he won three awards with his club side Everton.

The 20-year-old was named young player of the year, the supporters’ club player of the year and the Shareholders’ Association’s outstanding young player of the year.

He said: “It’s hard to put it into words how much it means to know the fans have voted for me.

“It’s an honour and a massive achievement in my book because there have been some great players who have won this award in the past – now I have one and I’m very proud of it.

“I didn’t expect everything to happen so soon, it’s as simple as that. I think you just want to try and get games and be around the first team when I first came in, but I’ve played for England and made more than 50 appearances for Everton.

“It’s gone very quickly – I’ve been over the moon with how it has gone and hopefully there is plenty more to come as well.”