Manchester City’s John Stones to cut short holiday to help Premier League title defence

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John Stones is ready to cut short his summer break to start work early on Manchester City’s title defence.

City’s World Cup players have been given at least four weeks off with none of those involved at Russia — including Ilkay Gundogan, who was knocked out at the group stage, set to be part of the preseason International Champions Cup in the United States.

And with seven of City’s squad making it as far as the semifinals, Pep Guardiola faces going into the opening game of the season at Arsenal on Aug. 12 with key players short of match fitness, but Stones, who was the only outfield player to start all of England’s games at the World Cup, wants to come back quickly after an impressive tournament.

“I’m going to go back in for the first game against Chelsea in the Community Shield. I just want to keep the momentum going,” he said in quotes reported by the Daily Telegraph.

“I will have a break. Two-and-a-bit, maybe three weeks off. I will just make sure I am fighting fit for the new season.

“Now it is about keeping improving. I feel I’ve improved as a person and a footballer over the last few weeks on the biggest stage in the world.”

City youngster Phil Foden will have an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the opening game against the Gunners after being omitted from England’s under-19s squad for the European Championship to join up with the tour to the US.

The Football Association is frustrated by the scheduling of the tournament with other highly rated young players including Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon also missing from the squad for the tournament in Finland to be with their clubs.

“It’s bitterly disappointing that, once again, this tournament is scheduled outside a FIFA window which forces clubs to make such difficult decisions,” FA technical director Dan Ashworth said.

“We understand the dilemmas the clubs face around release of players during this particular time of the season and it’s our view, and that of several other countries, that UEFA should take this into account when scheduling tournaments of this magnitude.”

City’s final squad for the U.S. is still to be announced but sources have told ESPN FC that former England goalkeeper Joe Hart is likely to be part of the tour despite looking for a new club.

First-team players Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte and Claudio Bravo will all be involved with several youngsters having the opportunity to try to impress Guardiola.

This article may contain contents from ESPN soccer news website

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