John Stones has claimed being omitted from the England squad has acted as motivation to revive his career at Manchester City.
The defender looked to be on his way out of the club after struggling last term, but he has bounced back this season and formed a fantastic understanding with Ruben Dias.
Stones netted City’s opening goal in their 3-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, and the 26-year-old is hopeful his form this term has caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.
“It’s a massive honour for me (playing for England) and being out of the recent squads has been difficult for me,” Stones said. “It’s been a motivation for me and I’ve worked hard to get back into the team here and the England call up – if it comes – is progress from what I’ve done for City.”
The former Everton defender’s most recent appearance for England came back in November 2019, a 7-0 win over Montenegro in European Championship qualification.
Southgate has gone in a different direction over the past 18 months, but he is still looking for settled centre-back options alongside Harry Maguire.
The England boss seems focused on a 3-4-3 formation. He has come in for criticism, with the side lacking in creative spark, but it offers a chance for Stones who could comfortably slot in in a three at the back.
City boss Pep Guardiola is convinced Stones merits an England recall.
“He deserves it,” Guardiola said when asked if Stones warrants an England recall”Of course Gareth Southgate knows better than me what he needs but I will be delighted and happy if John comes back in the national team.”
The win over Fulham moved City 17 points clear in the table, although the chasing pack have games in hand.
A further 14 pointswould be enough to guarantee the title heads back to City, and Stones is remaining focused ahead of the final eight games of the season.
“We’ve always had that fighting spirit,” he said. “The target is in the front of our minds and it’s getting closer.
We’re taking each game as it comes. Games are coming thick and fast and there are a lot of competitions we’re still in.”
Source : goal.com