John Stones rallies behind Harry Maguire after the England defender's 'harsh' criticism this season

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At club level, John Stones and Harry Maguire are fierce rivals on either side of the Manchester divide. But at international level, the two Yorkshiremen have formed a formidable partnership for Gareth Southgate's side.

And after seeing his defensive partner be jeered by England fans despite helping the Three Lions to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, Stones has suggested that much of Maguire's criticism is harsh. Speaking ahead of England's Nations League clash against Germany on Tuesday night, Stones said "I think some of the criticism that I've seen personally and over this season has been harsh. "I don't want to get into that but I think how he's conducted himself on and off the pitch, he should be extremely proud of that and, all I can say is, I enjoy playing with Harry and I hope that we can do for many more years to come.

"I used to play against Harry as a kid and I knew his quality then. I think he was the age group older than me but I got the opportunity to play against him and it took quite a few years to be able to play with him here." Stones also commented on his close relationship with Maguire, with the duo both growing up in Yorkshire just a couple of years apart. "I think we hit off straight away, he is an incredible person off the pitch, first and foremost, and an incredible partner and player to play with on the pitch. "So I hope we can keep playing together and building this partnership, whoever it may be, in a back three or back four." Southgate will likely stick with both Stones and Maguire at the heart of his defence for the upcoming Qatar World Cup, with both boasting plenty of international experience from recent years. Stones now boasts 56 caps for England, while Maguire follows closely behind with 43. The duo have helped lay the foundations for one of the most successful England sides in history, and Stones believes it's because the duo complement one another on the pitch.

"I'd like to think so," said Stones. "I'm sure Harry would say the same thing, the feeling is definitely mutual and we've always got things to improve on, that's a given. "We know that we can improve as individuals and me and Harry are always talking about, when we do play together, what opposition we're up against, what kind of striker we're up against and how we can build up better with the ball, how we can defend better, what decisions to make if people run in behind and I think that's the beauty of it - how he speaks about the game and speaks about his ideas or thoughts. "It's not always easy and we do argue on the pitch sometimes but I think, with our relationship, that's the right thing to do sometimes." Stones and Maguire could well be in action once again for England on Tuesday night, with the Three Lions hoping to bounce back from their Hungary defeat last weekend.

The article John Stones rallies behind Harry Maguire after the England defender's 'harsh' criticism this season appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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