John Stones puts faith in under-fire England teammate ahead of World Cup
England defender John Stones has lauded the ‘very special’ partnership he has with Harry Maguire, who has come in for continued criticism this season ahead of the World Cup.
Stones and Maguire played alongside each other in a back three with fellow South Yorkshire native Kyle Walker as England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, before establishing a two-man partnership en-route to the Euro 2020 final last year.
But Maguire has had a rough road since then. The £80m centre-back struggled badly for form on his return to club duty for Manchester United last season. That malaise continued into the start of the current campaign, before he was dropped by manager Erik ten Hag and then further ruled out of contention because of an injury he has not long recovered from.
Maguire’s place as a starter for England has been questioned, especially when in-form AC Milan centre-back Fikayo Tomori missed out on the squad altogether.
“I've been through periods of difficulty and it's never easy. I'm sure he is aware of [the criticism],” Stones told the Daily Mail on the subject of his potential World Cup partner.
The Manchester City player added that the way they have both had to ‘fight through adversity’ has left them both stronger as a duo: “…how we have each other's back is very special.”
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Stones continued: “He is a person who is not willing to give in. He is a top player, an incredible person. I admire him, his mentality. It's not about proving people wrong, he will prove to himself coming out the other side of this that he has stayed true to what he believes in and is fighting for.
“We have trust in each other and that comes with playing loads of games together, forming that partnership. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and can combat those. We have been through some big experiences together. They are memories that will stay with me for ever.”