Gareth Southgate shrugs off John Stones injury fears


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Gareth Southgate has played down concerns John Stones could miss England’s last-16 clash against Colombia on Tuesday because of injury.

The Manchester City star was taken off at half-time as the Three Lions suffered a first defeat at the Fifa tournament in Russia – a 1-0 reverse against Belgium.

Harry Maguire came on to replace Stones as an Adnan Januzaj goal in Kaliningrad secured the Belgians top spot and pitted England against the dangerous Colombians in the first knockout phase.

Stones was spotted with strapping on his left shin in the second half as he watched from the bench, but his manager said he was not panicking.

Speaking after the game, Southgate told reporters: “In terms of John Stones, the plan was to share the minutes where we couldn’t rotate everybody. There are no injury concerns for John.”

Southgate has warned his players they must dust themselves down and prepare for the “biggest knockout game for a decade” next week.

The manager said he was satisfied England had completed their first objective of progressing beyond the group stages, but must now alter their mindset for the business end.

England are currently priced 2.20 to exit the World Cup at the round-of-16 stage.

Southgate added: “What we have to do is prepare for a thrilling knockout game. Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that.

“We are still a work in progress, but that’s not a bad thing at this stage.”

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