John Stones

Gareth Southgate praises John Stones mental strength after England error

Tom Gott
Apr 1, 2021, 10:00 AM GMT+1
John Stones made a costly error against Poland
John Stones made a costly error against Poland | Pool/Getty Images

England manager Gareth Southgate has hailed defender John Stones' ability to bounce back from a mistake, after centre-back's error cost his side a goal in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Poland.

Stones was caught on the ball shortly after half-time and ended up giving up possession for Poland's equaliser, making the kind of mistake that plagued his game just a few years ago.

Fortunately for England, Stones held firm and played a crucial part in England's late winner, getting his head to a corner and setting up centre-back partner Harry Maguire to volley home to keep England's perfect start to World Cup qualification intact.

"We can't hide from the mistake, but it's easy to fold in those moments, and he didn't," Southgate told Sky Sports after the game. "He saw the game through with his defending, and was able to have an impact with the winner at the other end, so I think John has come through a lot, and is a much tougher, more resilient character for it."

He later added: "Tonight we've lost a goal - but the pleasing thing was John, in particular, regained his composure quickly, recovered in the game, and thankfully had an important part in the winning goal as well. He's built a lot of resilience in that period. I didn't think the pass to him helped, it brought more pressure on.

"It's key - every player is going to make mistakes in games. Sometimes they'll be punished and sometimes they won't. What you're looking for is that reaction to see how they respond."

Stones' progress was also hailed by Manchester City teammate Kyle Walker, who admitted that it could have been a different story for the centre-back just a few months ago.

"That just shows John's character this year," Walker said. "It's been fantastic. I've worked with him day in, day out at City, and the work he's put in to get to where he is now, the performances he's showing.

Kyle Walker, John Stones
Walker has been impressed with Stones | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

"Six months ago, probably John Stones would have not recovered from that, but he goes up the other end and gets an assist for Harry Maguire's winner.

"He's been fantastic this season. That's a credit to him, and the work he's put in off the field, where nobody can see, when he's gone home and done the extra gym, the extra strength work to get to where he is at now."

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