John Stones has established himself at the heart of the Manchester City defence this season and he hopes his return to form will prompt England coach Gareth Southgate to bring him back into the national squad.
Stones, who has not played for England side since 2019, has forged a formidable centre back partnership with Ruben Dias at City. The pair have conceded one goal in the 10 games they have started together.
Stones, who scored twice in City’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, told British media an England recall “would mean everything”.
“Watching them on TV is something no player wants to do,” said Stones. “All I can do is get a run of games and impress Gareth. If it happens it happens.”
Stones was hailed as one of England’s brightest talents when he arrived at City from Everton for 47.5 million pounds in 2016 but struggled to hold down a regular place under Pep Guardiola.
The 26-year-old made just 16 league appearances last season and said he often put too much pressure on himself when he was given an opportunity.
“When you do get a chance, you don’t perform because you are putting too much pressure on yourself,” he added. “I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and tell myself I was doing everything to get back, to keep the faith, keep grinding away.”
With Liverpool defender Joe Gomez out with a knee injury, Stones could return to the England squad for their World Cup qualifiers in March.
Guardiola happy for Stones
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he will drink a glass of wine to celebrate his 50th birthday on Monday but it might be something more bubbly at the end of the season if his side sustain their current form.
City’s 4-0 hammering of Crystal Palace on Sunday was reminiscent of the way they often tore sides apart during their back-to-back Premier League title seasons.
While Kevin de Bruyne showed once more that there is not much he cannot do with a football at his feet, John Stones again showed that apart from being a vastly-improved defender he can chip in at the other end with an unlikely double.
Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling added special goals of their own as City claimed a seventh win in nine league games, having drawn the other two.
They are two points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand, but Guardiola was not about to start talking up his improving side’s title credentials.
“I don’t want to send any messages. It is Aston Villa on Wednesday. It is one game at a time,” he said.
“A few weeks ago we were points behind Liverpool and we win a few games and that’s what we have to do. Now I will drink a good glass of wine and then think about Aston Villa.”
Guardiola had special praise for Stones, a player who because of injuries and loss of form has struggled at times to fulfil his potential since moving to City from Everton in 2016.
“If there is one player I am more than pleased that everything is going well, it’s John Stones. He is playing because he deserves it,” Guardiola said of the 26-year-old.
“He has struggled for many reasons in the past, it belongs to him how he overcame this. He doesn’t make mistakes and he’s created a good partnership with Ruben Dias.”