Men's Team

Gareth Southgate: John Stones’ resurgence a huge plus

Gareth Southgate says John Stones’ fine form is a significant boost for the England squad as he praised the Manchester City defender for forcing his way back into the national team set-up.

Stones has been named in the 26-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland after being left out of the previous three camps.

City’s No.5 was hampered by injury last season, playing in just 24 of 59 games for his club, which saw him fall down the pecking order for the Three Lions.

Southgate admitted he had questioned whether Stones could recapture his best form, but has been impressed with how the centre-back has turned around his fortunes.

“It’s a huge plus for us,” he said at a press conference shortly after the squad was announced.

“John has played a lot of internationals for us. For a period, we weren’t sure whether he was going to be able to recapture that form and when you invest as much time and as many caps in a player like that and he disappears, that’s a huge disappointment.

“John deserves huge credit for turning that round, finding that level of consistency.

“He’s played a big part in what’s looking like being a hugely successful season for Manchester City, although they will be quick to say they have not achieved what they want to yet.”

Stones has already eclipsed last season’s appearance tally, turning out 26 times in 2020/21 and he has been a commanding presence at the heart of defence throughout.

But for all the steel he adds at the back, it is his ability on the ball which has won the Yorkshireman many admirers and Southgate believes Stones’ attributes are ideally suited to England’s philosophy.

“He fits the profile of the way we want to play,” added the Three Lions’ boss.

“He is so comfortable with the ball bringing it out, but he’s got speed in defence as well.

"It is great for us to have him back. “

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