Former Barnsley youngster John Stones relieved to be back in England set-up

Manchester City's John Stones.Manchester City's John Stones.
Manchester City's John Stones.
John Stones admits it is a great feeling to be back in the England fold and believes he and his Manchester City team-mates can bring a winning mentality to the Three Lions as they challenge for European Championship glory.

The likes of Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden could be heading into the rearranged tournament on the back of winning four major honours with their club.

This season has been key for former Barnsley defender Stones, who has re-established himself in the City side, often partnering Ruben Dias – whose summer arrival many thought spelled the end of the England international’s time at the Etihad Stadium.

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Instead, a string of standout performances have seen Stones recalled to the England squad for the first time since November 2019.

“It was very tough and I think it would be the same for everyone,” the 26-year-old said about watching England games on television.

“It was difficult watching from home. You feel a bit helpless that you can’t contribute and be a part of the squad, but I used it as a motivation to strive to be better.

“When I got the text the other day, it was a great feeling to be back involved and see all the faces I’ve got some great memories with.

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“I was very nervous. I had worked so hard and I was hearing people say ‘you should be in’. But I didn’t take any of that in until the text arrived. I wanted to hear from the source. I was absolutely made up.”

Stones, who joined City from Everton in a big-money deal in August 2016, insists the arrival of Dias and other high-profile names only force him into becoming a better player to retain his place in Pep Guardiola’s side.

“I believe that as a club and a whole organisation we need to keep evolving and striving to be better,” he said.

“Those players coming in – and taking nothing away from them and how well they have done – it was added motivation to step up and prove my worth.

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“I went away and did all the things that I needed to do. As a player, you can never rest when things are easy – everything is a challenge.”

On his England recall, Stones added: “I think I wanted to prove it to myself more than anyone else. Proving to myself was more satisfying to do.”

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