John Stones’ failure to grow up has Gareth Southgate in defence mode

Even at the age of 25 the England centre-back’s tendency to overelaborate and endanger his team is still worrying managers

There was a time, early in Gareth Southgate’s reign as England manager, when he made a point of telling his players that if they were not appearing for their club sides they could not expect to hold down their positions in the national team either.

Over time, that policy has clearly been abandoned as Southgate, like many of his predecessors, has realised it sounds good in theory but is not so easy in reality when he, for example, is an admirer of Fabian Delph, whose contribution for Manchester City in the Premier League since Boxing Day amounted to a 10-minute substitute appearance during a 3-0 win at bottom-of-the-league Huddersfield.

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