VINCENT KOMPANY believes John Stones will put a nightmare few months behind him and lead Manchester City to Champions League glory.
The £47million defender has struggled at the Etihad recently – losing his place at the end of last season and picking up an injury early in the current campaign.
Stones, 25, also got the blame for England’s Nations League failure as his blunder against Holland cost the Three Lions back in June.
Yet he has recovered from a thigh problem in the nick of time for Pep Guardiola, who has lost Aymeric Laporte to injury for the rest of the calendar year.
Kompany has played alongside Stones for the last three years at the Etihad and insists all he needs is regular football to get back to his best.
The Belgian said: “I’ve always said John is one of the most talented defenders. He’s got such a bright future. He’s already achieved a lot, let’s not forget that.
“He’s not a young defender anymore that hasn’t got any experience. He’s a multiple Premier League winning central defender that is growing.
“The one thing I wish for him is consistency – consistency of games and consistency of fitness – and then he will show the world how good he is.
“By the end of it, if City can win a Champions League or something, all of a sudden he’ll mentioned in a completely different category.
“John just has to get himself on the pitch, be himself and he’ll be fine.
“I’ve not seen signs of weakness I need to be worried about. He’s just a top class defender.”
Stones found himself out of the team as City raced to an unprecedented domestic treble last season – with Kompany playing the last few games.
After spending 11 years at the club, the Belgian believes it is that fierce competition for places that brings out the best in players.
He said: “Winning five out of the last six domestic trophies in the last two years is outrageous really.
“Everybody knows the reason why we’re so good is because we have this competition so everybody encourages that.”
Laporte’s injury left some fans wondering why City did not push harder to sign a replacement for Kompany when he left in the summer.
The champions looked at Harry Maguire but refused to pay Leicester’s asking price – and instead they spent big on a new right back in Joao Cancelo.
Kompany says having four centre backs – like Guardiola had at his disposal – is the exception rather than the norm.
He said: “Three world-class centre backs is awesome by any standard. In the past we had the luxury of four. I’ve not seen many teams have four top, top centre backs.
“It wasn’t normal. It only happened because of circumstance. ‘OK, Vinny could break down, so we’ll bring in another one.’
“Most clubs aren’t advised to do it and have three. Most clubs run with three world-class centre backs and a young one. City have got unlucky with an injury, that’s it.”
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Many fans did not want him to go in the summer – but the new player manager of Anderlecht insists he knew his time at City was up.
He added: “I was pushing the odds. I’ve been flying in Belgium in terms of playing and I’ve still got a lot to give, but I felt to compete at City is a different ball game.
“You need to wake up every morning and just be at your physical peak. There aren’t many places around the world like that but the demand here is as such.”