John Stones says he is ready to fight for his Manchester City place as the Premier League champions prepare for life after Vincent Kompany.
The Belgian ended his trophy-laden stint at the Etihad Stadium after securing a domestic treble last season and has since returned to boyhood club Anderlecht as player-manager.
Kompany won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups during his 11-year stay in England. For Stones, this season is a chance to prove he can fill the ‘big shoes’ vacated by the club captain.
“There’s some big shoes to fill – Vinnie (Kompany) set a benchmark at the club which I don’t think can be done again,” Stones said.
“He’s such a good person and for anyone who becomes captain, if they do half the job he did then they will be able to call themselves successful.
“He was such a key player for us, and will be missed by everyone, especially me personally. “But it’s a great challenge for me and us all to step up and grab the bull by the horns and run with it now.” Stones, now 25-years-old, featured in only 24 of Man City’s Premier League games last season.
He lost his place towards the end of the season while a costly error in England’s Nations League semi-final defeat to the Netherlands in June made it a disappointing end to the term all round. “It was a difficult last two months of the season and the England game was a difficult night for me personally,” admitted Stones.
“I let a lot of people down – the manager, players and nation and put my hands up and it’s something I have to live with. “But I’ll come back fighting stronger and I’m not one to give up easily on something.” Manchester City are 1.62 to retain their Premier League in the 2019/20 season.