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World Cup Player Focus #11: John Stones

RUSSIA 2018: John Stones has started all three of England's World Cup matches so far

RUSSIA 2018: John Stones has started all three of England's World Cup matches so far

We continue our World Cup player profiles with a look at City’s talented centre-half John Stones…

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Squad role:

He’s started all three of England’s World Cup games so far (1,173 minutes) and looks to be central to Gareth Southgate’s plans. He came off at half-time in Thursday's game against Belgium with a calf problem but it's not thought to be serious and he should be in contention for the match against Colombia in the last 16. 

Defensively, he’s looked solid, winning 88 percent of his tackles and producing 17 interceptions.

He’s provided a huge threat from set pieces, too. In the opening match against Tunisia, it was his bullet header that was too hot for Mouez Hassen to handle and left Harry Kane with a simple tap in for England’s opener, before scoring two headers against Panama as England ran riot in Nizhny Novgorod.

His pass completion rate stands at 95 percent, and he’s brought an air of calm assurance to England’s backline.

Former England boss Roy Hodgson sometimes used Stones as a right-back, and even suggested he could be utilised in a midfield role, but it’s hard to see Southgate using him anywhere other than his preferred centre-back position.

So far, Stones has been in the middle of a back three, with Walker first-choice on the right, and Leicester’s Harry Maguire to the left.

READ: World Cup player focus | Ederson

READ: World Cup A-Z | R is for Reyna

International highlights:

He has 29 senior caps to his name, the first of which came as a second-half sub in a friendly against Peru in 2014. His first start came in a friendly against Norway, and five days later he started again as England defeated Switzerland 2-0 in their first Euro 2016 qualifier.

He featured heavily in the remainder of the qualifying campaign but when the tournament came around, he was unused sub in all four games England played.

He’s clearly growing in confidence and stature on the international stage. Can he lead England to glory in Russia?

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