Everton latest: Barkley and Stones praised, Ivorian striker targeted

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Everton's outstanding season was recognised on Monday with the announcement of Roy Hodgson's England squad, as Leighton Baines were named in the 23-man squad that will travel to the World Cup in Brazil this summer, whilst defender John Stones is on the standby list in case Manchester United's Phil Jones isn't fit enough to play. Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has overseen the development of Stones, and believes the defender is a unique prospect.

"As a centre-half, the style that he has is quite unique," said the Spaniard. "For someone so young, to be able to cope with different challenges this season, how to defend against players like Wayne Rooney or the other extreme in Andy Carroll, and then to have an incredible understanding to play out from the back. He's a modern centre-half and he's very much key for Everton, and he's very much key for English football," he added.

Meanwhile, midfielder Barkley is also one of England's great young hopes after an impressive season on Merseyside, and former Everton striker Gary Lineker believes that the 20-year-old is similar to Lineker's former England team mate Paul Gascoigne.

"I see things in Barkley's game, in terms of strengths and weaknesses," Lineker said. "Like Gazza he can go past people. He's incredibly strong. He's got a similar stature, got amazing ability and will score amazing goals like Gazza. On the defensive side he's slightly lacking in terms of tactical nous, but if you play him in a certain position that wouldn't necessarily be that important," the Match of the Day host continued.

Martinez will not only be hoping to keep hold of his young stars like Stones and Barkley, but also add more talent to the squad having qualified for the Europa League next season. The latest name to be linked with a move to the club is Ivorian forward Didier Ya Konan, with the Hannover striker set to become a free agent. Ya Konan has impressed in Germany and should be a part of the Ivory Coast squad for this summer's World Cup, but could move to Merseyside with Martinez looking to add depth to his squad.

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