Is time running out for John Stones at Manchester City and the England national team?
- John Stones stands on the precipice of uncertainty as he ahs seemingly lost favour with Pep Guardiola and it could affect his England career
The defending Premier League champions suffered a major blow with Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for a big chunk of this season before the season even really kicked off. Obviously not the scenario they would have wanted to be in, but it seemed that the time was ripe for John Stones to step in and take centre-stage. It's gone a bit off-script since then.
A full-blown injury crisis, a less than perfect start to their Premier League season, and a massive gap now separating them from Liverpool, the start to this season has been disastrous by Manchester City as far as their Premier League form is concerned. Unfortunately for the England centre-back, he's been among those who've been singled out for criticism amid this downturn for the club.
Inevitably this has put some question marks over Stones' appearances for the national team as well. Things haven't gone right for Stones since the poor showing against the Netherlands in the Nations League and he seems to have fallen down the pecking order both for club and country.
Lack of faith
Although many will point to the incident against Atalanta in the Champions League when Pep Guardiola was incensed by the amount of time Stones took to prepare before getting on to the pitch, the defender will be more concerned by being overlooked in favour of Fernandinho and Rodri.
When player's are being played out of position to replace you despite being fully fit, that's concerning to any player. Even more so for the former Everton man as he continues to see game time in the middle of City's injury crisis, but that spell may not be too long as the likes of Rodri and Laporte return to action.
Stones has been a player who leans on his confidence to get though difficult periods. In 2016/17 when he had just moved to Manchester City, he had spells where he made plenty of errors and was backed up by Guardiola back then. This time there's no such protection from his manager and it appears as though he may be on his own.
Competition in the England squad
Micheal Keane, Tyrone Mings, Lewis Dunk, Fikayo Tomori, and Joe Gomez have all emerged as contenders to play alongside Harry Maguire in the England starting XI. Under Gareth Southgate's meritocracy, there appears to be little room for error for John Stones.
He has seen game time in the Euro 2020 Qualifying fixtures but there will be concerns of being replaced especially if his dip in form for club continues. If he's to lose his place in City's starting line-up as well, then he may be better off moving to another club to at least salvage hsi England career.
What once seemed like a burgeoning career that would see him become a stalwart in this England side now seems to have hit a rocky patch. One that Stones may still navigate expertly, but things look bleak for the City defender at the moment with especially the likes of Gomez and Tomori who're younger and garner favour with their club managers continue to impress.
There has been little doubt of Stones' quality, but there's a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his consistency at the moment. There is still opportunity in the misfortune of his team-mates for him if only he can step up and grab it.Published 20 Nov 2019, 09:11 IST