John Stones identifies the Manchester City decision that sparked his resurgence

John Stones has explained how the arrival of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake at Manchester City sparked his resurgence this season.

Stones has enjoyed a remarkable campaign at City after finding himself fifth-choice centre-back at the end of last season.

The arrival of Dias and Ake for big money appeared to further push Stones down the pecking order but he has fought back in unlikely circumstances, cementing himself as Pep Guardiola’s first-choice defender alongside Dias.

With Stones at the heart of a City defence that has the best defensive record in the Premier League, an England recall has soon followed and the defender has spoken about his return from the brink was inspired by City’s transfer activity.

“Those players coming in was added motivation to step up and prove my worth,” Stones said.

“I went away and did all the things that I needed to do. As a player, you can never rest, even when things are easy – everything is a challenge.

“I saw this as a challenge – a challenge to fight and a new challenge to retain a spot.

“I think I wanted to prove it to myself more than anyone else. Proving to myself was more satisfying.

“To go out there and show people, you have got an added pressure, but the person I am really trying to do it for – or prove to – is myself.”

On returning the national team squad, he added: “It was a relief. I was very nervous. I had worked so hard and I was hearing people say I should be in but I didn’t take any of that in until the text arrived.

“I was waiting for the text to see if I was in. Time goes a bit slower when you are sat about waiting for something to happen. It was a special moment. A really special moment.”

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