Despite a dramatically up-and-down first season at Manchester City, John Stones has a very bright footballing future to look forward to — at more than just his natural position, center back, perhaps, according to England manager Gareth Southgate.
Speaking in the build-up to Tuesday’s friendly against France in Paris, Southgate revealed that Stones spent a considerable amount of time training in a position other than central defense, and based on a certain set of qualities, he’ll be considering him for selection there in the future — quotes from the Guardian:
“We had a look at [Stones in defensive midfield] in training last week, in fact. I also think we want defenders who can bring the ball out and show composure. I think he could do either of those jobs. You’ve asked me if he’s an option there, and I think he is. He’s a player who’s very comfortable receiving possession, and has all the attributes and capabilities to play as a holding midfield player. He obviously hasn’t done that yet, really, so that’s a decision we have to make. But do I believe he can play that role? Absolutely.”
It’s surely an idea which has crossed the mind of Pep Guardiola, Stones’ boss at Manchester City, and someone who’s perhaps best-known for his previous sides’ ability and tendency to pass that ball out of the back.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier, a rival of Stones for England minutes at either position, successfully made the transition from center back to holding midfielder and saw his career take off since moving to White Hart Lane in the summer of 2014, albeit having done so at the age of 20, where as Stones is 23 years old with over 100 Premier League appearances thus far in his career (Dier had made only a couple dozen appearances for Portuguese side Sporting CP before transferring back to England).