John Stones is taking everything in his stride. Not much seems to sway the Manchester City defender and while Sam Allardyce’s recent praise was “great to hear”, his focus is on securing a first-team place with his new club and enjoying the whirlwind ride.
The 22-year-old will be named in Allardyce’s first England squad on Sunday, with the manager indicating Stones will be a crucial part of his team. The defender’s rise has been rapid, but he does not seem overawed by the increased attention or expectation brought on by the £47.5m City spent to sign him from Everton.
“I suppose everything happens fast but I’ve settled in so quick and as a footballer everybody knows you’re not going to get any time to settle in too quickly,” Stones said. “You’ve got to take each day as it comes but I feel great. I’m enjoying my football and the boys have helped me do that.”
While Allardyce says he wants Stones to fit into his plans “right now”, the centre-half was oblivious to the manager’s comments until after City’s run-of-the-mill win over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday night.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it, but that’s great to hear,” he says of Allardyce’s praise. “It’s a new challenge for me and I just want to keep improving my game and keep progressing as a person as well, and I think it’s important that you get games under your belt and play in the top competitions. I’m definitely enjoying myself.”
Stones’s battle for a place in City’s starting XI will become more difficult with Vincent Kompany nearing fitness. But, again, he seems largely unperturbed. “I just keep doing my thing and believing in my ability. Everyone around me knows what I can do. I suppose it’s fine-tuning and things like that come with experience when you’re playing games. I’m just thoroughly enjoying my football and enjoying the challenges that come in the future.”
One of those challenges may have become apparent this week, with Tosin Adarabioyo, a local teenager, introduced from the bench against Steaua. “I’ve not seen him play too much but in training he’s looked good, he’s looked sharp,” Stones added.
“He’s working hard to improve his game. As a young lad I’ll try to help him as much as I can from my short experience, I suppose, of big games and the Champions League. It was good to see him get on the pitch from all the hard work in pre-season that he’s done.”