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April 16, 2021

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Ian Wright and Ashley Cole defend John Stones over error and blame England star for Poland goal

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Ian Wright defended John Stones for his mistake in England’s win over Poland (ITV)

Ian Wright and Ashley Cole have defended John Stones over his error in England’s 2-1 victory over Poland and believe Nick Pope is also at fault for the visitors’ equaliser at Wembley.

Harry Kane’s penalty put England in front in the first half but a lacklustre second-half display from the Three Lions led to Poland pulling level in the 58th minute.

After an under-hit pass from Pope, Stones attempted to cut inside with the ball but the Manchester City centre-back was dispossessed and Jakub Moder went on to smash the ball past the Burnley goalkeeper.

Stones, however, redeemed himself late on as his header from a corner set up Harry Maguire’s winning goal with five minutes remaining.

‘For me, Pope should be playing that harder into Stones,’ Cole told ITV.

‘Stones has to go towards the ball to give himself a bit more time and then it’s about decision-making, maybe he should’ve gone back to Pope, he’s decided to open up and go across the 18-yard box.

‘I just think he could’ve punched it a bit quicker to Stones.’

John Stones’ error allowed Poland to equalise against England at Wembley (Reuters)

Wright also agreed with Cole that Pope’s under-hit pass put Stones in a difficult situation.

‘I’m quite pleased Pope got his chances in these games but I think what we saw there with the way he passed the ball to John Stones, obviously John Stones is going to get the blame for it, is that there wasn’t a lot going on,’ said Wright.

‘It wasn’t, for me, a pass he should’ve made, it should’ve been one he just got and cleared his lines.

Nick Pope is battling for the No.1 spot for England’s European Championship campaign (Getty)

‘Like Ashley rightly said, he passed it to him in a way that he [Stones] had to deal with it, then he turned around and saw everybody coming towards him.

‘It was a poor decision for the goalkeeper to give him the ball in the first place.

‘I feel for him because like Harry Maguire said, he’s had a great season and now people are going to start judging off the back of that.’

However, Roy Keane believes Stones can be guilty of letting his concentration slip during games.

‘There was obviously parts of the game where they’ll be disappointed. They gave encouragement to Poland,’ said the former Manchester United captain.

‘John Stones… some defenders do get bored, and I think he has got that in his make-up and we can be critical of England, but at the end of the day they got the job done.

‘It’s about winning football at this level, we can talk tactics and systems all you want, they got the job done. Gareth’s job is to win football matches, I’ll give England credit for finding a way to win because that’s the name of the game.’

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