John Stones defends ‘unfazed’ Harry Maguire saying his England colleague has an ‘incredible mentality’ as Man City star discusses recent defensive struggles
John Stones said his England team-mate Harry Maguire was “not fazed” by the current pressure and called him an “incredibly strong character”.
Stones spoke to talkSPORT about his international colleague, who he lined up with in defense on 32 occasions, enjoying huge success with runs to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final.
Since the heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final last summer, the dynamic has changed, with Maguire receiving increased attention for his performances at club level.
The 29-year-old has lost his place as a first-choice option for Manchester United, despite still being club captain under Erik ten Hag, which has cast doubt on his England status.
However, Gareth Southgate persisted with Maguire and named the centre-back in his World Cup squad for Qatar, despite widespread criticism.
But, for Stones, it’s an obvious choice.
“I think Harry is an incredibly strong character, first and foremost,” Stones said in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham in Qatar ahead of Monday’s opener against Iran.
“What he’s going through doesn’t seem to phase him, which is a really good trait to have.”
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Citing Maguire’s successful penalty in the Euro final, Stones continued: “[He has an] incredible mentality – such a huge moment in English football.
“What he did and what he did for the England team, the tough times, what he went through and how he coped.
“I can only congratulate him for what he has done and what he still does and of course I also have a lot of incredible memories with him, and I hope that we will make more.”
It’s not just Maguire who is under pressure, but the whole team – and in particular the defense – after a disastrous Nations League campaign.
England are on a six-game losing streak heading into the World Cup, conceding goal after goal despite being tight at major tournaments.
However, Stones sees this as part of growing as a team, with different tactics and players being part of growing the team.
The Manchester City defender said: “It’s been a bit daunting the last four games, but we’ve had a lot of personnel changes and the manager has tried different pairings, different formations, different systems.
“It’s a process where we try to evolve, try to improve and try to figure out what we can do to improve.
“Sometimes it doesn’t always work out and we find that out the hard way, but I think sometimes when we came to these tournaments, especially four years ago, we didn’t feel like we were going to do what. be it good from the outside.
“It was one of my main goals to change that perception of the England team, the players, whatever.
“We’ve kind of united the nation in that aspect, and that comes with a little bit more added pressure to deliver.
“We’ve set the bar high, but great players play under that pressure and thrive under that pressure and we’re here as one.
“I think that’s why we’ve grabbed the nation because we’re so close to people in every aspect, regardless of their background.”
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