John Stones has gone from “sixth choice” at Manchester City to being back in contention for a place in England’s European Championship plans, claims Joleon Lescott.
An unfortunate habit of making costly errors was holding Stones back at the Etihad Stadium, with it suggested that he could be offloaded by City to make way for new recruits.
Pep Guardiola did bolster his ranks during the last transfer window, with Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake snapped up in big-money deals, but Nicolas Otamendi was to be the only senior centre-half departure.
That has kept Stones in Manchester and presented him with an opportunity to play his way back into favour.
A welcome return to form has been enjoyed over recent weeks, with Lescott of the opinion that Gareth Southgate will be considering following Guardiola’s lead when it comes to wiping a slate clean.
The former Blues defender told the Daily Mail: “I was half-worried for him at the start of the season. City had bought two centre-backs, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake. Fernandinho had been picked ahead of him, too. You could arguably say he was viewed as sixth choice in that position, so it was daunting.
“Confidence is huge. It is hard when your confidence goes and every player has a dip. But at 26, John is still a relatively young player and he deserves credit for coming out the other side, keeping his head down and performing. At City we’re talking about one of the best squads in the world, so if he’s performing then he is doing OK.
“Defending well enhances everything else. You feel taller. You’re stronger, you’re faster, you feel you can jump higher. Your instincts are better. When I was defending well, I was better in possession.
“We’re seeing that with John and it has an impact on the opposition. When his confidence was lower, with the odd mistake, teams would put him under pressure more often — trying to force an error. I don’t see that at the moment.
“Once he’s playing well and his confidence is high, it’s a waste of energy trying to force that error. Look at Virgil van Dijk and Vincent Kompany when they were playing, they had spells when nobody was getting past them. So nobody even tried. They are then not having to defend as much.
“John’s standards and his attitude have not dropped in training because the manager wouldn’t pick him otherwise. If he continues to do this I’m sure he’ll be back in the England team for the Euros.
Source : goal.com