Kalvin Phillips has claimed his international team-mate and club team-mate John Stones is among the best centre-backs in the world.
The Manchester City midfielder, who has played in two of England’s four World Cup games, is preparing to take on France in the quarter-final in Qatar on Saturday. Speaking ahead of the clash, Phillips was asked about Stones’ form, with the City defender playing a key role for England throughout the tournament.
He’s also been a key figure for Guardiola over the last few years, with the Catalan describing him as ‘exceptional’ last season, while he’s also been utilised in a pivotal hybrid right-back/centre-back role, which allows Joao Cancelo to advance at will down the left. But speaking in Thursday’s press conference, Phillips singled out his fellow Yorkshireman for praise: “I believe that John [Stones] is one of the best centre-halves in the world right now.
“I’m not just saying that because he’s at England and I’m good mates with him, or he plays for Man City. I genuinely believe that he’s one of the best centre-halves in the game at this moment in time.
“I think the way he plays at City, he’s brought that to England and seems so comfortable doing that. He’s very composed on the ball and defends really well, and going forward he’s probably one of the best centre-halves you can have in terms of distributing the ball. For me, I believe that John is one of the best centre-halves in the world right now and his partnership with Harry [Maguire] is amazing. They understand each other so well, feed off each other, help each other out in certain situations. I think, as of now, it’s probably been the best centre-back partnership in the World Cup.”
Phillips is unlikely to start in Saturday’s clash with the world champions, as he continues to regain fitness following a long-term shoulder injury, while the form of Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham means the trio are expected to play on Saturday.