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John Stones says Man City players must continue to set standards

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John Stones says all of the Manchester City squad must continue to work hard

John Stones says all of the Manchester City squad must continue to work hard

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John Stones admits he and his Manchester City team-mates must continue to set the standard as the Premier League champions work hard to cover for the injured players at the club.

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City, who have won their opening three games of this season’s Champions League group stage, will continue their pursuit of a first title in Europe’s top-tier club competition against Serie A side Atalanta in Italy on Wednesday.

David Silva has been ruled out with a muscular injury he suffered against Southampton on Saturday, while Rodri (hamstring), Oleksandr Zinchenko, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte (all knee) are also out.

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Stones is determined to prove his significance to Pep Guardiola’s side as the club continue, in particular, to deal without long-term injury absentee Laporte, following the departure of former captain Vincent Kompany.

Stones joined Manchester City from Everton in a £47.5m deal in August 2016

Stones joined Manchester City from Everton in a £47.5m deal in August 2016

“We’ve all got to step up as players, fight for our positions, fight for our team-mates, the lads that are injured, the likes of Aymeric and Leroy,” Stones said.

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“We need to play for them. We need to keep working hard every day in training and setting the standard for everyone.

“That is what has brought us the success last season. We have got to take that responsibility as individuals and as a team.”

Stones faced questions alongside City boss Pep Guardiola from reporters in Italy

Stones faced questions alongside City boss Pep Guardiola from reporters in Italy

Stones missed most of the opening to the season after suffering a muscle injury in training but is now back to full fitness and the England international admitted it has been a frustrating period in his career at the club.

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“It’s been difficult getting re-injured,” Stones, who has played in the last five matches, said.

“It was difficult because it’s me out of the team, not being able to be there for the team and be selected for the manager.

“I’m trying to stay as fit and healthy as I can now and get a run of games when called upon to try and do my best for the team and for myself.

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“I feel good again, I feel fit and I need to stay like this for as long as I can – for the rest of the season hopefully.”

 

During Stones’ absence Guardiola was forced to play holding midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri in defence and the 25-year-old said he was “massively impressed” with how they deputised in the position.

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Fernandinho has filled in at centre back this season

Fernandinho has filled in at centre back this season

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“I’m massively impressed for the likes of Fernandinho,” he said.

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“He’s played in numerous positions and played as if he’s played there his whole career and that’s the great mentality that he’s got and the rest of the lads as well.

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“If asked to play different positions it’s never second-guessed, the lads are always doing it. That’s credit to them and it’s something that people should look at. It’s about helping the team and not putting yourself first sometimes.”

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