‘Stones knows Man City can go and buy another defender’ - Richards hails character of rejuvenated centre-half

John Stones Manchester City
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The England international appeared to be heading towards the exit at Etihad Stadium, but he has returned to form over recent weeks

Micah Richards has praised John Stones' “character” at Manchester City, saying he knows Pep Guardiola “can go and buy another defender just like that”.

The Citizens have made the most of the riches available to them in recent transfer windows. Big money has been invested in centre-half options, with Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias snapped up during the summer.

Prior to that, Aymeric Laporte had been drafted in to help counter issues in what had become a problematic position for City.

Filling the void created by Vincent Kompany’s departure has proved difficult at Etihad Stadium, but a solid partnership is being established between Dias and Stones.

The latter had appeared to be heading for the exits in Manchester with struggles for form seeing him make costly errors. He has, however, played his way back into Guardiola’s plans and is now seeing an England recall mooted heading towards this summer’s European Championships.

Another impressive display, which included a rare goal, came during Stones’ latest outing as he helped City into a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup final with a 2-0 derby win over Manchester United.

Richards is among those to have talked up Stones’ return to prominence, with the former City defender telling Sky Sports: “It shows his character. He has been outstanding since he came back. When you're going through a difficult time or period in your career and you think your days are over, it is hard.

“I've been there myself but he showed his character in his performances and he's been outstanding. Him and Dias absolutely ran the show at the back and I'm just happy for him. 

“I'm happy for him because it's difficult when you've got so much money at Manchester City and they can go and buy another defender just like that, it shows his character and his willingness to show everyone what he can do.”

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Stones is eager to point out that there is no secret to his success, with the 26-year-old merely knuckling down and refusing to throw in the towel at City.

He has said of his renaissance: “I'm just working hard, just trying to play as many games as I can.

“I want to give everything to the team and stay true to myself - see what I can do, what I can improve on. Playing these big games is something I thrive off and I just want to play well.”