14 June 2024

Missing Euros never crossed my mind, says John Stones after return to fitness

14 June 2024

John Stones never doubted his involvement at Euro 2024 despite the England defender suffering from injury and illness in the week leading up to Sunday’s opener against Serbia.

The 30-year-old Manchester City man suffered an early foot injury during the 1-0 friendly defeat to Iceland last Friday.

He played on until half-time before coming off but was ultimately passed fit to travel to Germany, only to then miss a day of training having been laid low by illness.

Now he insists he is raring to go in the Group C clash in Gelsenkirchen following some additional training sessions after he spent Wednesday in bed with “hot and cold sweats”.

Asked if missing the Euros crossed his mind as he hit the Wembley turf in pain just nine days out from the Serbia game, he replied: “I don’t think so, no.

“It was almost like my big toe in the line straight down my foot and you think ‘I have fractured it’. You think the worst at the start and we got some scans back and (it was) really minor stuff and came through it, which is great.”

After being passed fit, Stones suffered another setback when illness struck not long after his arrival in Germany, sidelining him from training as he isolated away from his team-mates.

I don’t get ill or sickness. I think it was a good time, if it was ever going to happen, during this week

“I felt quite alone, to be honest,” he said.

“You are not at home, no-one around you. And then being stuck in my room all day, no food. Not much water because it was coming out again. But it kind of puts things into perspective in terms of health and in general, how lucky I am over the years.

“I don’t get ill or sickness. I think it was a good time, if it was ever going to happen, during this week and I got back out on Thursday.”

Stones is now expected to start for England but will do so without his familiar tournament partner Harry Maguire, whose own injury issues saw him ruled out of the finals.

With Maguire absent, Stones is the only recognised centre-back with major tournament experience in Gareth Southgate’s squad, with Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa, Lewis Dunk and Marc Guehi collecting just 36 caps between them.

“Me and Harry, I don’t know what the stat is on how many games we’ve played together but it’s probably quite a lot. He’ll be missed as well, not only by me but the team,” added Stones.

“Obviously being here for I don’t know how many years now with Gareth, knowing how he wants it done through experience with him, (I will be) passing it on to those around me who haven’t been here as long.”

Guehi is the most likely to play alongside Stones, who has been impressed by what he has seen from the Crystal Palace man.

“I’m a big fan of Marc’s. Just how he goes about his work,” Stones said.

“He’s like a big sponge to learn and I think that’s how you progress and improve as a player. He is taking everything in. His quality, for his size, how strong he is, how he dominates.”

If Stones is to help England to a first major men’s trophy in 58 years he will not be among the players pulling out their mobile phone to document the occasion, as he explained he prefers a more old-school approach.

After discussing a picture of himself as a child wearing an England kit as he signed for Barnsley – a photograph that was included in a welcome pack waiting for him in Germany, organised for all the players by the Football Association – he said: “It is such a nice touch and brings it back to home. It reminds you what is important.

“It’s like when a song comes on in the car or something and it makes you feel a certain way. It will take you to a certain time. When I see an old picture, too.

“Like I’ve got a disposable camera. When I was a kid I used to get the disposable. I can go back after this and not know what pictures I’ve taken, whereas on the phone you can see it every day.

“They’re like things that you miss from that. I’ve got one here but I haven’t taken any yet – I’ve been in my room!”

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