John Stones steps up to become England’s main man in defence

Four years ago Stones did not make the cut for Brazil but now, thanks to Gareth Southgate’s belief, he is a vital part of the national team

When John Stones pulled up a seat to discuss his first proper experiences of a World Cup, nobody was impudent enough to point out that Gareth Southgate’s players will have outlasted the previous England side to make it to this tournament by the close of play on Friday.

On that occasion, Stones was a young defender at Everton who made Roy Hodgson’s standby list for Brazil and travelled to Miami for the pre-tournament camp but was back home when England were knocked out after back-to-back defeats inside the opening week. The warm-up games against Peru and Ecuador provided his first two caps and, by his own admission, it was a lot to take in.

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