Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said it took defender John Stones a lot longer than expected to rediscover his best form but he praised the Englishman’s perseverance after its 2-0 League Cup win over Manchester United on Wednesday.
Centre-back Stones has struggled with injuries and poor form in recent campaigns but has found his rhythm this season forging a strong partnership with Portuguese defender Ruben Dias.
Stones opened the scoring in the second half against United - his first goal in three years for the club - before Brazilian Fernandinho added another to send holder City into the League Cup final for the fourth straight year.
“All credit for him (Stones). In a long career, you always have ups and downs. Unfortunately, he struggled longer than we expected and he expected - but his comeback is absolutely down to him,” Guardiola told the British media.
“He made another outstanding performance. But the most important thing he has been able to do - something he has struggled with the past three or four years - is play four, five, six games in a row. This is so important.”
'Trying to improve'
Stones, who faced questions about his future at the club last season, said his resurgence was down to hard work.
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“I'm trying to play as many games as I can ... give everything for the shirt. Staying true to myself, to what I can do and what I can improve on,” Stones told Sky Sports .
“Playing in these big games is something I thrive off, the team thrives off. I’m trying to improve as much as I can.”
City meets Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the League Cup final on April 25.
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