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  • 29 March 2024

Gareth Southgate Defends John Stones Selection

England's international friendly draw with Belgium was marred by an early injury to defender John Stones, who was forced off the pitch after just 10 minutes due to a suspected abductor injury. Despite Stones' recent full 90-minute performance against Brazil, manager Gareth Southgate defended the decision to start him for the second consecutive game.

Southgate emphasized the thorough assessment of players' fitness levels and the strategic approach to managing their workload. Drawing parallels with other national teams' handling of key players, Southgate highlighted the careful consideration given to Stones' playing time. While acknowledging the disappointment of Stones' injury, Southgate expressed confidence in the decision-making process and stressed the importance of player well-being.

Stones' injury comes at a critical juncture for both club and country, with Manchester City set to face Arsenal in a pivotal Premier League clash. Concerns over Stones' fitness add to the challenges faced by City, compounded by teammate Kyle Walker's recent injury scare during England's fixture against Brazil.

Despite the setbacks, Southgate remains optimistic about England's squad depth and the wealth of talent available. With several players absent due to injuries, Southgate emphasizes the need for flexibility and adaptability as Euro 2024 approaches. The recent friendly matches provided valuable insights into the team's strengths and weaknesses, offering opportunities for growth and improvement.

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