'His quality is always there' - Guardiola demands consistency from Stones at Man City

John Stones Manchester CityGetty Images

Pep Guardiola wants John Stones to show his best form for a sustained period – not just for a few games.

The England defender’s form has oscillated dramatically during Guardiola’s time as Manchester City manager.

At times, he has been an assured presence at the back and a silky operator on the ball. In other periods, he has seemed nervous and error-prone.

With competition from Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake, Stones can’t trade on his past successes. But, if he performs at the top of his ability, Guardiola says he won’t hold past failures against him either.

"It’s what he wants, what we want [a sustained run of form]," Guardiola told a press conference ahead of City’s Premier League fixture with Fulham on Saturday.

"He was injured last season and could not have continuity. But I want more too - I don't just want two good games, I want more. He can do it, he did it in the past.

"First step is to have this continuity, train every day and play every three days. We know the quality he has, there are no doubts about that.

"It's not about the quality. The quality is always there. If not, he would not be here. It’s about how you perform today, right now. Statistics is the past. It’s about how you perform.

"That is the point - everyone has to be ready."

While Stones hasn’t always been at the races, one Englishman who has impressed this season is Phil Foden.

The young midfielder is helping fill the void left by David Silva, and Guardiola has been full of praise for ‘the Stockport Iniesta’.

“I love his passion,” Guardiola said. “The only thing in his mind is to be a better player for himself, his club and his national team.”

Guardiola will need his squad to be operating at top capacity over a difficult-looking festive period.

After Fulham's visit and a Champions League dead rubber against Marseille, City travel to Old Trafford for the first Manchester Derby of the season.

They then face a spell of six games in 19 days, with fixtures against West Brom, Southampton, Arsenal, Newcastle, Everton and Chelsea, with a potential Carabao Cup semi-final to follow immediately after.