Manchester City defender John Stones says he is determined to return to his best after a harrowing end to last season that saw him come under criticism for both club and country.
The former Everton star found himself under the microscope after a calamitous error cost England badly in their UEFA Nations League semi-final defeat against Holland in June. Stones’ error came at the end of a period where he has found himself out of City’s starting XI as Pep Guardiola’s side completed an unprecedented domestic treble.
The 2019/20 campaign could be a crucial one in regard to the defender’s long-term future at the Etihad Stadium but he is adamant he is strong enough to move on from the tricky end to last season.
Stones said: “I love England and playing for England and it was a difficult time. It was a mistake. There were other mistakes in that game that weren’t highlighted as much but that was the pivotal moment I suppose.
“I took some time away in my holidays and reflected. I’ve come back this season fighting for my chance to play again and put that right, and I’m sure I will because I’ve got that strong mindset of putting things right and being honest when you’ve done something wrong.
Stones, who started just three of City’s final 19 games in all competitions last season, is hoping to play a more prominent role as City look to build on their incredible achievements from last year.
“I’m of the mindset it can be topped,” he added. “I think we can go one better and try to fight for the Champions League. That’s our aim and we can’t let the bar drop now. It is in our hands. We have got to keep fighting for everything in every game and every competition.”
City start their Premier League defence away at West Ham on August 10 and the visitors are 1.29 favourites to win, a draw is priced at 6.00 while the Hammers are the 10.00 outsiders.