Stones set for end-of-season talks over his future, admits Guardiola
John Stones is set to make his first Premier League start for Manchester City since January, but with no guarantees about his future at the club.
The England international has been playing catch-up since an injury forced him to miss the early preparations for the Premier League’s return from the coronavirus-enforced suspension.
City boss Pep Guardiola revealed he will start the game against Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium, but refused to be drawn on his future amid possible interest in the defender from Wednesday night’s visitors as well as former club Everton.
“On the transfer market, we will speak at the end of the season,” Guardiola said. “I’ve said many times I’m more than delighted with John as a person, as a pro, everything.
“What I want is the best for him. We’ll speak at the end of the season about what is going to happen.
“Sometimes my wish is not the wish of the players, or the wish of the situation for the club. At the moment I will feel it, if we have to change, we’ll talk to them. He’s a young player and we want him to be consistent, to train and recover.
“There are players who can play every three days for 11 months, others struggle more to be fit and we try to find the key to playing every three days. This is what we want.”
While Stones has not suffered any major injuries, he has been troubled by a number of niggles during his time at City. And, this season when Aymeric Laporte was ruled out for five months, he has played in just 14 of 51 games so far.
City are also set to go into the transfer market for another centre-back when the transfer window opens casting further doubt over his future at the club.
Guardiola has been a big fan of the 26-year-old, famously telling a room of journalists that he had “more balls than everybody” in the room. But a lack of consistent form over the past year following a difficult Nations League with England in the summer, has further added to the uncertainty.
“It’s difficult for a player and for all of us,” Guardiola said. “The quality of John is there, I never doubted it for one second. It’s just when you don’t play, you are rotated and injured again, and injured again.
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“They are good when they play in a routine, they are confident. You need minutes, playing, being fit or injured and this is what happened with John.
“We have, Nico [Otamendi], Aymeric, Fernandinho – Eric [Garcia] is doing incredibly well. He must play for himself and focus.
“He and anyone will not be judged for bad actions or bad moments. Be what they are. We know what he is, the quality and perspective is there.”