Defender Stones has struggled for an extended run in Pep Guardiola’s side
Last Updated: 15/07/20 10:38pm
John Stones admits he has had a frustrating time of late at Manchester City due to injury problems.
The defender has struggled for an extended run in Pep Guardiola’s side, with the City boss often preferring Fernandinho, Eric Garcia or Nicolas Otamendi as Aymeric Laporte’s centre-back partner.
The 26-year-old most recently suffered an ankle injury in late June, but started for the second time in three games in the 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday evening.
Stones was visibly frustrated with Bournemouth’s late goal to halve the deficit at the Etihad, and admitted it has been a tough season for him personally.
The former Everton defender told Sky Sports: “I’m really frustrated with conceding that goal at the end. It’s just an accumulation of things that happened in the game. Towards the end I felt we got a bit sloppy in our possession, and it’s led to them scoring. It’s probably a bit raw right now, obviously we’ve won, and it’s good to get another win on the bounce.
“But from a personal point of view I’m frustrated we’ve conceded. We defended so well through the game, and they made it really difficult for us today.”
Stones, who has been linked in the press with a return to Everton and also a move to Arsenal, says he has tried to keep positive about his form and injury problems.
Asked about his season, Stones said: “Really frustrating from a personal perspective. Injury re-occurrence, then little things like getting injured a few days in after lockdown.
“It’s been frustrating. I’ve tried to stay positive, and be ready when I’m called upon, and I feel I have been. Coming back after lockdown, getting fit again, and then coming back in and playing against some tough opponents.
“So I feel fit, feel ready to fight for the FA Cup at the weekend, and then the Champions League. I feel I’m on the right track. It’s good to be getting that consistency of playing and keeping my fitness.”
Asked about his performance on Wednesday, City boss Guardiola told Sky Sports: “John Stones was really well in defensive areas, strong in the air, and played a really good game.”
Carra: Stones’ last game for City?
Speaking on Wednesday, Jamie Carragher questioned whether Stones has a future at the Etihad Stadium…
“I’m not sure he does have a future here,” said the Sky Sports pundit. “I think Pep Guardiola has played numerous players in his position, even a midfielder in Fernandinho and young Eric Garcia.
“It may actually be the last time we see Stones in a Manchester City shirt. He was brought in for big money and it hasn’t quite happened for him.”
Analysis: Stones, Otamendi give Pep little food for thought
Sky Sports’ Ron Walker…
“Pep Guardiola made six changes as Manchester City hosted Bournemouth on Wednesday, potentially with one eye on this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal.
“Among other things, it presented John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi a chance to prove him wrong. Despite City’s defensive injury problems, the centre-back pairing have been picked together only twice all season – and one of those games was City’s calamitous 3-2 defeat at Norwich back in September. Plenty has been said about the club’s failure to replace Vincent Kompany last summer, and perhaps this was a last-chance saloon for both to stake a claim for their City future.
“As it was, despite the Citizens’ victory, they did little to suggest Pep has been wrong to entrust even midfielder Fernandinho or youngster Eric Garcia at the back ahead of picking them both. With both full-backs bombing on as usual, the defensive responsibility lay with them – and they struggled with Dominic Solanke, Junior Stanislas and Josh King all evening.
“To put it into context, no side had previously managed more shots than City in a Premier League game at the Etihad in Guardiola’s four-year reign. The team to break that duck are third bottom, having previously scored 36 goals in 35 games.”