Noel Whelan has suggested Everton defender Michael Keane should partner Manchester City’s John Stones in the England defence.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Premier League striker insisted Keane had been “excellent” this season and developed into a real leader for the Toffees.

The 28-year-old has missed just two games across all competitions for Everton this season and has captained the club in the absence of Seamus Coleman.

He played a starring role in the Toffees’ historic 2-0 win over Liverpool on Saturday and registered a staggering 13 clearances at Anfield, according to sofascore.

Asked whether Keane’s recent performances could see him add to his 12 England caps, Whelan told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “Yes, and you look at John Stones as well who is having a fantastic season.

“Let’s not discount the players at other clubs who at one point were not even entertained by their managers.

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“He’s having an exceptional season and there could be a case for a John Stones and Michael Keane partnership. Eric Dier is making a few mistakes at Tottenham, I don’t think he’s having a good time of it at the minutes – he’s still a quality player.

“When you’re looking at overall performances and who is winning you look no further than John Stones at Manchester City and Keane at Everton. They’re brilliant this season and really coming into their own by being leaders in that position.

“It’s nice to know we’ve got an abundance of quality centre-halves to pick from. 

“Those two are standouts for me, at the moment, in terms of performances.”

Keane won his latest England cap in their 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland in November – the last international break.

He made his national team debut in 2017 but did not make the squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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