Gareth Southgate has tipped John Stones to be an England great and believes the Manchester City defender should continue to play out from the back. The former Barnsley and Everton star was criticised from some sloppy play during England’s patchy display on Friday when Southgate’s side beat Scotland 3-0 in their latest World Cup qualifier at Wembley. However, Southgate has backed Stones, who he thinks can be as good as Barcelona’s Gerard Pique or Mats Hummels of Bayern Munich.
“For years we’ve talked about not being able to play out from the back,” said the interim England boss.
“If we’re to be different, if we’re to progress, then we have to encourage players. But John also knows what I think of some of the things he did [against Scotland]!
“What we’ve got to remember is he’s 22. In central defensive terms, it’s nothing. If we want to have a Hummels, a (Jerome) Boateng, a Pique…
“I think he’s got the perfect manager [Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola] to work with. I wanted us [on Friday night] to be an England team that played with confidence and were prepared to use the ball even though it was a very intense and difficult atmosphere.”
England play Spain on Tuesday and Southgate’s side can be backed at 15/2 to win the international friendly 1-0, while they are available at 12/5 to keep a clean sheet in the encounter. Spain are 9/1 to win the 2018 World Cup outright while England can be backed at 16/1 to triumph in Russia.
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