John Stones issues Euro 2024 rallying cry after overcoming double scare in major boost for England

John Stones issues Euro 2024 rallying cry after overcoming double scare in major boost for England

John Stones says he feels "great" despite injury and illness scares in the build up to England's opening Euro 2024 game against Serbia on Sunday.

Stones feared "the worst" after landing awkwardly on his foot in the first minute of England's friendly defeat to Iceland last week, before a "real rough" 36 hours with a stomach bug after the squad arrived in Germany on Monday.

The centre-half played on until half-time at Wembley and had an x-ray at the ground, with a scan the following morning confirmed there was no serious damage.

Stones revealed he would have been willing to play at the Euros with a fractured toe but says he is feeling no serious aftereffects from the incident.

"[I'm] great, really good," Stones said. "I have been topping up after training today [Friday]. I am on track with everyone else and am looking to do my extras to catch up on what I have missed out on and in the gym as well. I feel great physically. I am looking forward to it now.”

"I was worried at first," he said, when asked about his injury scare in the Iceland game. "You think ‘I have fractured it’. You think the worst at the start and we got some scans back and [it was] really minor stuff and came through it, which is great.

"I thought if I have fractured it, get the docs, tablets, injections, whatever it is, I don’t want to miss out...if it was bad, I was ready to go and gladly it wasn’t."

Stones took part in England's first session in Germany on Tuesday but was confined to his room for the next 36 hours with a serious bug, seeing only doctors.

John Stones had a miserable start to his time in Germany (Getty Images)
John Stones had a miserable start to his time in Germany (Getty Images)

"I haven’t been that bad in...I couldn’t tell you how long," he said. "I am not getting into detail! It was a real rough 36 hours.

"I didn’t feel great the day before in the open session but felt good enough, and thought it would just pass and ended up ringing the doc in early hours of the morning after being up for a few hours and couldn’t take it any more.

"I felt quite alone to be honest, which you might not at home – no one around you and then being stuck in your room all day, no food, not much water because it was coming out again. It kind of puts into perspective, of health in general, how lucky I am over the years.

"I don’t get ill or sickness. I think it was a good time, if it was ever going to happen, during this week and I got back out on Thursday.

"I slept. It was difficult because I was having hot and cold sweats. I watched TV and spoke to my family most of the day which got me through it and the day seemed to go quite fast which I was glad about. Had it dragged out it would have been a lot worse."

Stones has been a regular for England manager Gareth Southgate at the last three major tournaments, forming a solid partnership with Harry Maguire at centre-half. In Germany, though, the Manchester City defender will have a new partner alongside him after Maguire was ruled out with a calf injury.

Stones has backed Marc Guehi to deliver for England this summer (Getty Images)
Stones has backed Marc Guehi to deliver for England this summer (Getty Images)

Asked if it would be strange not to be playing alongside his long-time teammate, Stones said: "It will.

"Me and Harry, I don't know what the stat is on how many games we've played together, but it's probably quite a lot. He'll be missed as well, not only by me, but the team, people who he's close to within the team as well."

Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi is the leading candidate to replace Maguire against Serbia, with Ezri Konsa, Joe Gomez and Lewis Dunk the other contenders.

"I’m a big fan of Marc’s," Stones said. "Just how he goes about his work. I mean this in really nice way, he’s like a big sponge to learn and I think that’s how you progress and improve as a player.

"He is taking everything in. His quality, for his size, how strong he is, how he dominates.

"He has been an incredible player at Palace and had a big injury this season as well but I watched him come back in his first game and it was like nothing had ever happened.

"It's been a great lesson for me to play with him. He was a lot more mature and experienced than his age. Hopefully if we can get to play together, I will be really pleased."

Stones has no doubt England can go all the way in Germany and says he is encouraging the rest of the squad to believe they can be champions on July 14.

"100 per cent," he said. "I'm a big believer in not hoping we can win [but] believing we can win. And having that feeling within you.

"I think that's something that I've inherited over the years from winning a lot of trophies and being in big games and trying to pass that on. It's a simple message, it's nothing to do with football. I think all of us in the room hope we can win but believing is a totally different thing. That's a powerful thing from what I've been involved in."