Pep Guardiola has praised John Stones for his impressive recent form and made it clear all members of his Manchester City squad must be ready to play when required.
Stones has started three Premier League games in a row alongside Ruben Dias in the heart of the City defence, all of which have resulted in clean sheets.
The England international has seized his chance since earning a recall – he played in the 3-1 win over Wolves to open the league campaign, but had not featured in the competition prior to starting the 5-0 victory over Burnley on November 28.
His form has seen him keep Aymeric Laporte out of the line-up, though Guardiola is not interested in any complaints about a lack of minutes from within his squad, considering the crowded schedule City face in the coming weeks during the festive period.
“It depends on the performance,” the City boss said when asked about Stones’ selection ahead of Laporte during his media conference on Monday.
“John is performing well, so that’s why he’s playing. But there are a lot of games and anything can happen.
“Everyone has to be ready, I’ve told them that many times. Don’t complain much, because around the corner you have the chance. Maybe not, but you have to be ready.”
successive clean sheets is a new Club record for City!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 13, 2020
City drew 0-0 at Manchester United on Saturday in an uneventful derby, making it the third successive game against their neighbours in which they have failed to score.
It was just the fifth goalless draw between the sides in 47 Premier League meetings, albeit three of those stalemates have come in the last 11 clashes.
Guardiola was unable to call upon Sergio Aguero at Old Trafford due to illness, but the striker has returned to training and could be involved against West Brom on Tuesday.
“Today he has trained, the last two or three days he did not. After today’s training, we will decide on Tuesday,” Guardiola said.
“Eric Garcia is still not fit, Oleksandr Zinchenko neither. The rest are okay.”
Aguero has been hampered by injuries this season, restricting the club’s all-time leading scorer to just five appearances in all competitions.
City will be expected to return to winning ways when they host West Brom regardless of Aguero’s availability, having won 13 on the spin against their next opponents in the league.
Indeed, the visitors have never recorded a victory at the Etihad Stadium, their last away success over City coming at Maine Road back in February 2003.