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The absence of Stones from City’s recent matches hints at a revamped selection process.

The recent absence of John Stones from Manchester City’s starting lineup indicates a shift in their selection process. Despite being fully fit, Stones has only started one game in the past six matches, and that too ended with him being substituted at halftime during the FA Cup match against Chelsea.


It’s a surprising turn of events considering that just a year ago, having a fit John Stones available for crucial games would have been seen as a major advantage for City’s pursuit of the Premier League title. His pivotal role in the midfield during the Champions League final less than a year ago made him seem indispensable. However, a series of injuries and setbacks have limited his appearances this season to just 27 matches.


Stones’ recent lack of game time has seen other players like Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake step up as regular starters in his position, with Josko Gvardiol also making an impression at left-back. Akanji, in particular, has featured in 18 of the last 20 games, highlighting the competition for places in City’s squad.


So, why has Stones suddenly fallen down the pecking order? Guardiola clarified that Stones is fit and performing well in training. However, other players have simply been in better form lately. Guardiola emphasized the need for consistent performances, mentioning how players like Jack Grealish, despite their past contributions, have had to accept reduced playing time due to the competitive nature of the squad.


Guardiola also hinted at the possibility of Stones reclaiming his spot in the starting lineup, likening their relationship to that of a mentor and mentee. He stressed the importance of players stepping up when needed, especially in critical matches.


This scenario reflects a new reality at Manchester City, where no player is guaranteed a starting spot, and performance is the ultimate criteria for selection. Stones now faces the challenge of proving himself once again or risk being a spectator for the crucial upcoming matches, a stark contrast from his pivotal role in City’s past successes.

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