Cape Town - John Stones has admitted he is struggling through a difficult time, having lost his regular starting spot in Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side.
Stones, 23, has made just 16 Premier League appearances in 2017/18. His cause hasn't been helped by a hamstring injury as the season headed into its middle stages, the form of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi, or the acquisition of Aymeric Laporte.
"Every player wants to play week-in, week-out. But I’ve had games here and there, I’ve been fighting and that’s all you can do — train hard, keep working hard, and when your chance comes, you’ve got to take it and that’s what I’ve done - stayed positive," said Stones, according to Goal.
"I’ve had the players' backing and the manager’s [Guardiola’s] backing. It’s one of those things where the team’s winning games and playing well, and you can’t get back in just like that.
Stones joined Manchester City from Everton for £47.5m in 2016. In his first season at the club, he struggled to live up to that price tag. Having silenced his early critics, the Englishman is doing his best to ensure that he is ready to prove himself once again when the chance comes.
For now, he is doing his best to enjoy his side's success this season, even if he hasn't played as much of a role as he would have liked.
When pressed on whether or not he is currently in the thick of the most difficult spell of his career, Stones said: "It’s tough, but I’ve got my first medal [in a League Cup win over Arsenal] so I can’t complain."
City next travel to Goodison Park on Saturday where they will face an Everton side desperate for points to move themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Kick-off is at 18:30 (SA time).