News From Manchester: John Stones must pull on past experience to overcome latest Man City setback – Alex Brotherton

Certainly, if Stones is going to win back the starting gig he lost to Aymeric Laporte last season then he is going to have to roll his sleeves up once again. Missing City's pre-season tour of the US was not the ideal way to start, but history suggests it would be foolish to underestimate Stones' ability to overcome adversity and prove doubters wrong.

It's fair to say that Stones' City career has not exactly been plain sailing since he arrived from Everton in 2016. The Blues parted with the best part of 50m to make the Barnsley-born centre-back one of Pep Guardiola's first signings at the club, but for a while it looked like things weren't going to work out.

2016/17 was a disappointing season for all City players, but particularly Stones. The young defender never looked comfortable in a constantly changing defensive line-up, with weaknesses in his defensive colleagues and City's midfield doing little to support him.

The following season City won the title with a record Premier League points total of 100, but Stones was unable to nail down a regularly starting spot as he rotated with Vincent Kompany and Laporte as partner to the ever-present Nicolas Otamendi.

City defended their crown in 2018/19, and Stones enjoyed a break-out year. He put in some monster performances as City held off Liverpool by a point, most memorably the 2-1 defeat of Jurgen Klopp's side in which he cleared spectacularly off the goal-line.

His renaissance abruptly ended in 2019/20 though, as a mix of injuries and bad form saw him fail to fill the void left by Kompany, as City laboured to a disappointing second-placed finish.

As had been the case in 2018 serious questions were being asked about his future, but once again he fought back and showed just why he is one of the best defenders about – with a little bit of help from Ruben Dias.

The pair formed a formidable partnership at the back as City romped to the 2020/21 title, a campaign that earned the England international a new five-year contract to extend his stay at the Etihad to 2026.

Unfortunately for Stones last season represented something of a dip again, as Guardiola's centre-back partnership of choice was Dias and Laporte. City's number five did impress whenever he got the chance though, both in his usual position and when asked to fill in at right-back.

While Laporte has spent the summer recovering from injury, Stones' absence from the pre-season tour puts Nathan Ake in pole position to partner Dias in the Community Shield on Saturday. That will be a blow for Stones, but by no means a fatal one.