Harry Maguire has revealed that he is close with England team-mate John Stones despite the club rivalry between the pair.
Maguire and Stones operated in the heart of defence together throughout the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and could well be the first choice pairing for Gareth Southgate at this summer's European Championships.
The two men have been able to put the rivalry between their respective clubs, Manchesters United and City, to one side at international level, with Maguire describing his compatriot as a "good friend".
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What has been said?
Stones has forced his way back into the England fold after rediscovering his best form at City in 2020-21, having fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola at Etihad Stadium previously.
Maguire is delighted to have seen the 28-year-old bounce back and prove his worth, and told a press conference ahead of the Three Lions' clash World Cup qualifying clash with Albania on Sunday: "We always speak away from football. He's a good friend. I grew up with him, I grew up playing against him when he was at Barnsley.
"We're not far from each other where we actually grew up and lived and come through. When you play centre back especially, week in, week out you're going to have some ups, you're going have some downs, you're going to be at fault.
"You're not going to go throughout your career without being at fault for goals, so you get scrutinised when you play in the Premier League so you expect that.
"It's about how strong you are mentally and how you can come through it. I'm pleased to see John. He's back playing and back playing with confidence, back playing really well. For myself, I feel exactly the same."
Maguire added on the support they have given each other off the pitch: "We spoke to each other through times where it's tough. We spoke when it was tough and we speak when it's going well. Like I say, I'm close with John. I want him to play as well as you can without winning football matches, if possible!"
Maguire and Stones' England records
Maguire was handed his first senior appearance for England back in 2017 while he was on Leicester City's books, and has since racked up 30 caps for his country, scoring two goals.
Stones, meanwhile, has been a full Three Lions international since 2014, having initially broken into the squad during his time at Everton. The City star has appeared in 40 games for England and also has two goals to his name.
The bigger picture
Supporters of United and City won't mind Maguire and Stones having such a tight bond as long as they can bring England success in the coming years under Southgate.
Both men will be in line to feature against Albania, where a win would extend the Three Lions' 100 per cent start in Group I.
Southgate's side will then look ahead to a meeting with Poland on Wednesday before Maguire heads back to Old Trafford and Stones returns to Etihad Stadium.