‘John Stones bounced again’ – England duo Harry Maguire and Gareth Southgate reward response to Poland error

<p>Stones atoned for his mistake with an assist</p> (The FA via Getty Images)

Stones atoned for his mistake with an assist

(The FA via Getty Images)

Harry Maguire and Gareth Southgate leapt to the defence of John Stones following the centre-back’s error during England’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Poland on Wednesday.

Maguire saved Stones’ blushes and continued England’s 100 per cent winning start to qualification in the final match before Southgate selects his Euros squad.

Having coasted to a 5-0 victory against San Marino and triumphed 2-0 in Albania, the Three Lions rounded off this month’s triple-header by edging past their biggest Group I rivals. England had looked on course for a comfortable win when skipper Harry Kane fired home from the spot during a commanding first-half display, only for dawdling Stones to be caught in possession shortly after half-time.

Brighton’s Jakub Moder robbed the defender and lashed Poland level, only for Maguire to secure a hard-fought victory when superbly firing home from a Stones header five minutes from time.

It was a let-off for the recently recalled Manchester City defender and Southgate, whose side will next line-up at Wembley in their European Championship group opener with Croatia on June 13.

Match-winner Maguire praised Stones’ response to his error, telling ITV: “John’s been brilliant this year.

“We’re defenders, we make mistakes and when we make mistakes we get scrutinised.

“Obviously one little mistake but he makes up for it with a great header at the back post.

“I said to him, ‘just keep going, keep going we’ll get the win’ and we managed to do that.

The FA via Getty Images

The FA via Getty Images

“We’re defenders, we always make mistakes. We don’t like making mistakes but sometimes we are at fault for goals. We’re not perfect.

“John has made a little blip tonight but he’ll come back strong; he’s in great form for club, he’s in great form for country.

“It was a good performance from him to come back strong in the reaction that he made and to get the assist is important for the team.”

Southgate echoes Maguire’s sentiments with praise for Stones’ reaction to his error: “He’s managed to compose himself for the rest of the game and had a part in the winning goal which is important. You can fold in those moments and he didn’t.

“He’s been having a really good season. He’s made a mistake tonight and he knows that but he bounced back from it during the game and he’s got to keep doing that.”

However, Southgate also warned Stones and his squad that starting places are still very much to play for. When asked if Stones would be in his XI at the European Championships, the manager replied: “Everybody’s got a lot to play for for that.

The FA via Getty Images

The FA via Getty Images

“We’ve done a lot of good things this week but we can see there’s still a step to go.

“What I really liked is we had a lot of players missing that we might have been able to refresh the team with a little bit more across the last two matches and in the end that slight fatigue started to tell but the players stuck at it and deserved the win.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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