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John Stones reveals Gareth Southgate assurances during Manchester City difficulties

John Stones has remained a mainstay with England having retained the faith of manager Gareth Southgate despite being in and out of the first team at Man City in recent years

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John Stones has revealed Gareth Southgate told him his England place was safe despite falling down the pecking order at Manchester City.

City defender Stones did not play in the Premier League until mid-October which raised doubts about whether he would keep his place in the England squad.

But despite England boss Southgate axing the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard for not playing enough minutes, it is clear that Stones is an exceptional case.

Stones, who has been playing again after City team mate Aymeric Laporte got suspended, said: “Maybe last camp or the camp before that I spoke to Gareth about it – it was almost like a reassurance of things I already knew or was thinking.

“He told me to stick with it and I would get my time. Sometimes when you are not playing, you know why – because of errors or bad form or whatever.

John Stones has remained a regular with England

The Man City defender has been in and out of the first team


Getty Images)

“But I knew it was not anything like that. So it was a great break coming to England seeing a different environment and different people and trying to improve for when I went back to City.

“I knew I had to be patient from the start of the season. I had two really annoying injuries that came at a bad time in the respective periods when I was coming back.

“Both times we had a game on the Wednesday and I was ready for the Thursday to train again.

“There just was not that amount of time to get back. The team was playing well and I knew I just had to be patient and wait for my opportunity again.

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“I did that and had a few good games over the recent weeks, especially at the weekend, so I am happy to be here.”

Stones has also warned that England cannot afford to take Albania lightly as they look to the next two qualifiers to help clinch their place at next year’s World Cup.

Stones added: “You have probably heard me say a number of times there are no easy games – there can be upsets or things go against you. The last game we played against Albania was not an easy one by any stretch – they caused us problems.

“So we never go into any game showing the team no respect. We give respect to every team, especially when there is as much on the line as there is for us.”

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