Malta game is a stepping stone for England

CLEAN SLATE: England defender Stones is confident about his team's spirit and new boss Southgate.


    Oct 07, 2016

    Malta game is a stepping stone for England


    ENGLAND'S World Cup qualifying match against Malta on Saturday will signal a fresh start for the national team after a difficult few months, defender John Stones said.

    England suffered a humiliating round-of-16 loss to Iceland in the European Championship and last week parted company with manager Sam Allardyce following an undercover newspaper sting.

    A late Adam Lallana goal gave England a 1-0 win over Slovakia in their opening Group F qualifier, Allardyce's only game in charge.

    "Malta will be a big occasion for us personally, back on home turf, new manager and exciting times for us as players as well," Stones told reporters.

    The 22-year-old said the experience of players such as captain Wayne Rooney had been vital.

    "They are massive for me personally and the young boys coming through, giving us pointers in games, situations and when things are not going well," Stones added.

    "They have been there and been through those experiences before and it's kind of new for us in some respects.

    "They are massive for the group. It's great we all get along. We have a great team spirit about us."

    The Manchester City defender also backed interim boss Gareth Southgate to get the job permanently.

    "He knows all the players in the set-up. He's been great for the Under-21s when I've been there, he's got silverware in the summer," Stones added.

    "A new chapter for him and a new challenge for him, he'll be relishing it, coming here working and trying to do his best in the four games and, whatever happens after that, it is down to the FA."