John Stones
Stones is one of four Manchester City players in the England squad along with Kyle Walker, left, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Thursday, 25 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app

John Stones says he felt helpless having to watch England on TV, after being recalled to the squad for the first time since November 2019.

Stones, part of the side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-final, fell out of favour at Manchester City in the following two seasons.

But a return to form in 2020-21 as part of the Premier League’s meanest defence has led to an international recall.

“It was very tough and I think it would be the same for everyone,” Stones said.

“It was difficult watching from home,” added the 26-year-old, one of five centre-backs in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the forthcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

“You feel a bit helpless that you can’t contribute and be a part of the squad, but I used it as a motivation to strive to be better.

“When I got the text the other day, it was a great feeling to be back involved and see all the faces I’ve got some great memories with.

“I was very nervous. I had worked so hard and I was hearing people say ‘you should be in’. But I didn’t take any of that in until the text arrived. I wanted to hear from the source. I was absolutely made up.”

Stones, who only started a combined 32 league games in 2018-19 and 2019-20, says the arrival of his regular centre-back partner Ruben Dias and other high-profile names has forced him into become a better player to retain his place in Pep Guardiola’s side.

“Those players coming in – and taking nothing away from them and how well they have done – it was added motivation to step up and prove my worth,” said the 2016 signing from Everton.

“I went away and did all the things that I needed to do. As a player, you can never rest when things are easy – everything is a challenge.”