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Has John got the stones to succeed?

| 28.03.2017

City defender 5/1 to be Young Player of the Year

At just 22-years-old, over 6ft tall, and already a multiple England rep, Manchester City defender John Stones seems to have the world at his feet. Manager Pep Guardiola further boosted his stock when telling the press of his admiration for the centre back, saying the youngster has more balls than anyone else at the club. High praise indeed!

Not always a starter for City, he has been more of a regular in the sky blue this year. A £47.5m buy from Everton – one of many stars to roll off the Goodison Park production line – the young-gun has come in for his fair share of criticism from fans who believe he falls way short of his price tag, especially when under pressure.

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Pep declares his love for Stones

Pep would hear nothing of the sort said against his man when making a passionate defence to the media, telling anyone who would listen that he loves Stones. He loves those type of players who carry real personality, and conceded that it is not an easy task to play as a defender in Man City’s set-up, especially not with the demands he puts on them.

It was a tad strange to see Guardiola go to such lengths to back Stones, but was it the actions of a manager who truly believes he has got a star of the future in his ranks – one who needs time to develop for club and country – or was it one trying to protect the feelings of a vulnerable young man who may just be letting the negative comments seep into his performances?

In Sunday’s thrill-a-minute 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the Etihad, which Guardiola called one of his most special moments in football, trust was again placed in Stones, handed a starting slot, and he saw the game out from beginning to end. The gamble seemed to pay-off as Stones was an eye-catching part of a solid defensive unit that day, keeping Liverpool at bay, limiting the visitors – who arrived to have a go – to just four shots on target.

Stones has been hit and miss.

Modest Stones player of the year material?

Stones himself seemed to shy away from the praise, but said that he took confidence from having the backing of the best manager in the world. Admitting that he still had much to work on, the Englishman told fans that he strived to learn from the great man every day, so he was in a position to step up and be counted when needed by the team.

Guardiola isn’t the only man to have been impressed by the efforts of Stones so far this season, and Coral traders have priced up a special market on the defender being named PFA Young Player of the Year. Punters who believe that he is on-course for that gong can back him at 5/1.

Those with more confidence can try their luck on Stones to be handed the PFA Player of the Year award at 66/1 with us. That will come in time, certainly if we see his progress continue, but I’d imagine it’s a big ask this season.

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Frank Monkhouse