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John Stones returns to Manchester City training ahead of Brighton clash

John Stones returns to Manchester City training ahead of Brighton clash

Manchester City defender John Stones has been spotted in first-team training ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The 28-year-old has missed the last five matches for the Citizens across all competitions after sustained a hamstring injury while on international duty with England in the 3-3 UEFA Nations League draw with Germany last month.

Stones had been involved in seven of City’s first eight games prior to his injury, including a couple of appearances at right-back in the absence of Kyle Walker.

Manager Pep Guardiola revealed before the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend that Stones could return within the next week to 10 days.

However, the reigning Premier League champions have been provided with a boost ahead of Saturday’s fixture at the Etihad Stadium, as Stones has been pictured in first-team training with his teammates.

John Stones back in tRAINing! ☔️

Today’s fun session in the Manchester rain 👇

— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 20, 2022

Guardiola could therefore have five central defenders available to face Brighton along with Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte.

The latter of whom has recently returned to first-team action after undergoing knee surgery over the summer and he will be hoping to make his first Premier League start of the season on Saturday.

However, Guardiola is unlikely to throw Stones straight into the starting lineup against the Seagulls, but he could be selected in the matchday squad and come off the bench to build up his match fitness.

Stones’s return to training is also a boost for England manager Gareth Southgate, who has recently seen a number of potential first-team candidates for his 2022 World Cup squad hit with injuries.

Man City duo Walker and Kalvin Phillips are recovering from respective groin and shoulder surgeries and they are both doubtful for the tournament in Qatar.

Manchester City's Kyle Walker receives medical attention on October 2, 2022© Reuters

Meanwhile, Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire picked up a similar hamstring injury to Stones in the same England game against Germany last month, but Erik ten Hag has suggested that the centre-back could return to first-team training before the end of October.

Chelsea right-back Reece James was forced off with a knee injury in the 2-0 Champions League win over AC Milan a week last Tuesday and he is set for eight weeks on the sidelines, meaning his chances of featuring in Qatar are unlikely.

England will face Iran, USA and Wales in Group B at the World Cup, with their first fixture against the former on November 21.

Southgate is required to submit his preliminary squad, which can include between 35 and 55 players, by Friday, while the official 26-man squad will be announced on November 13.

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