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Media Watch: Stones reveals World Cup inspiration

WORLD BEATER: John Stones is saluted by his England colleagues after scoring his second goal against Panama

WORLD BEATER: John Stones is saluted by his England colleagues after scoring his second goal against Panama

It’s the morning after England’s biggest-ever win at the World Cup finals so it’s no surprise to find the Three Lions’ 6-1 demolition job on Panama hogging the headlines.

And City defender John Stones, who helped set Gareth Southgate’s men on their way by heading home a brilliant first-half brace, unsurprisingly is one of the major subjects of attention.

And speaking to the Daily Mirror, the 24-year-old central defender, who has been excellent in both England’s opening Group G wins, revealed how the memory of what happened at the 2014 World Cup finals were helping inspire his heroics out in Russia.

Stones missed the last World Cup in Brazil where Roy Hodgson’s side failed to get out of the group. He'd been involved in the build-up, however, before being ruled out through injury.

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And looking ahead to England's final group game against Belgium on Thursday, Stones said: “It’s great to get through.

“I remember four years ago, knowing how hard the lads had worked. This time round, playing, we wanted to do the country proud and get through to the next step and see where we can go.

"To score my first goals for England, that was something special, especially at the World Cup.

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“We defended so well and dominated the match, to not get a clean sheet was a bit disappointing. It’s something to take into the next game I suppose, and hopefully I can get a few more goals from set pieces."

Stones’ City colleague Raheem Sterling may not have found the target on Sunday but the Daily Mail’s Matt Lawton said the Blues winger again reminded everyone of his vital worth to the cause, not least with the crucial role he played in creating England’s excellent third goal for Jesse Lingard.

Lawton wrote: “Panama were proving cynical, over-physical opponents, and when Jesse Lingard played the ball into Sterling's feet in the 36th minute England's No 10 had three defenders rapidly closing in on him.

“In that split second, though, Sterling showed not just great skill but great poise, turning away from his marker and delivering a perfectly-weighted pass back into the path of the advancing Lingard. It was a wonderful finish that then followed, but it owed much to the execution from Sterling.

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“Southgate would have noted how often Sterling was involved — he invited team-mates to score on a couple of further occasions and had a crack with an effort of his own that flew wide — and he may well have also reached the end of this game feeling there is little that needs fixing here.”

With attention now switching to Thursday’s group decider against co-leaders Belgium, the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson says England’s main task will be trying to find a way to neutralise Belgium and City midfield talisman Kevin De Bruyne.

Reflecting on the Red Devils’ 5-2 win over Tunisia at the weekend, Wilson wrote:  “Kevin De Bruyne quietly dictated the game’s tempo just behind Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku’s considerable presence at the top of Belgium’s attack and England will clearly face an enormous test of their defensive structure on Thursday.

"But there were still weaknesses to be identified here for Southgate. While Belgium’s players are individually unpredictable in how they attack, the team are collectively fairly constant in the areas they seek to exploit.

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“The incisive action largely comes via De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku through the middle and Southgate must ensure there is sufficient reinforcement through this spine.”

Finally, on the transfer front the Blues are being linked with what would be a sensational move for France and Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian  Mbappe.

The Mirror claim that with PSG facing a potential Financial Fair Play probe they may be forced to look to cut costs and so offload Mbappe, whom spent last season on loan in Paris from Monaco, before sealing a permanent transfer to the French capital.

The 19-year-old is one of Europe’s most sought-after talents and the Mirror say City, along with Manchester United and Real Madrid are closely monitoring developments.

As usual if there is any definitive transfer news, you will real it first here at www.mancity.com




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